Mumbai food lovers with smartphones have probably heard of The Hungry Mumbaikar aka Rohit Haryani. To maintain his 14K followers strong Instagram account as well as a Connoisseur Zomato foodie page and a Facebook page, Rohit traverses through Mumbai tasting and reviewing the best that the city has to offer.
Using his experiences, Rohit curates a truly drool worthy Instagram account, which just recently hit the coveted 14,000 followers mark. Yup, we were bowled over too. It seemed like the perfect time to pick Rohit’s brains about his Hungry Mumbaikar persona, the challenges of maintaining a blog and about his relationship with food in general. Here’s how our conversation went!
Where did the love for food start?
“I’ve always been a passionate foodie, right from my childhood days. While most kids wanted to be a pilot or a doctor or a cricketer, my ambition was to open my own restaurant chain in cities across the world! Yes, that sounds naïve and maybe unrealistic, but such was my love and passion for food!”
Many people consider Mumbai to be India’s food hub. Do you agree?
“Over the years, there’s been a shift in general consumer behaviour when it comes to food. A decade ago, we’d probably go to dine out once or twice a month on an average. Further, we’d have a few fixed restaurants we’d go to, restricted to certain cuisines. However, trends have changed over time. In recent years, most of us go out as often as once or twice a week! There’s been a cultural shift to catching up over a meal at a casual dining establishment or getting drinks over weekends. Further, users in general are willing to step outside their comfort zones and explore different cuisines and restaurants. In addition to dining out, thanks to increased awareness due to advent in social media and technology, a lot of food delivery apps and similar services have come up. A lot of us, especially corporates, have increased acceptance to order food through such mediums, instead of opting for the same old cafeteria food. Such factors have caused the Food & Beverage industry to boom with over 200 new restaurants, bars and cafes and over 100 new home chefs and home bakers cropping up in Mumbai in 2015 itself! And more such brands in the F&B space are set to grow in 2016 too! Keeping this mind, in my opinion, Mumbai has surely become India’s food hub!”
Do you have any quirks while eating?
“As a food blogger, I cannot survive without taking pictures of food! So as soon as the food is served, I take my own sweet time to capture the dish from different angles, in different lighting conditions until I’m satisfied with the outcome. So just in case you’re sharing a table with me, no matter how much you’re starving, you’ll have to wait to I get a good picture! Haha!”
Of course, the compulsive need to take photographs is what made The Hungry Mumbaikar what it is. And, there are at least 14,000 people who are thankful for that particular quirk – which bring us to Rohit’s journey as The Hungry Mumbaikar, which (he says) was his 25th birthday present to himself.
On The Hungry Mumbaikar
When and why did you start The Hungry Mumbaikar?
“I started off with The Hungry Mumbaikar in March 2015. As an avid foodie, I like to visit restaurants, bars and cafes across the city spanning different cuisines, be it street food or casual dining or even fine dining. Also, being tech savvy and a frequent user of multiple social media platforms, I wanted to share my food experiences with my friends and other foodies out there so that they can be a part of my food journey. That is what prompted me to start off with The Hungry Mumbaikar.”
What does a typical day look like for The Hungry Mumbaikar?
“A typical day for me includes being fixated to Instagram and making regular updates around my recent food exploits. In addition to The Hungry Mumbaikar, I head the Marketing & Business Development at Grabstr, a food-tech start-up, which is primarily a mobile-based giveaway platform letting our users win free food every week. Currently, Grabstr is only in the restaurants vertical. As part of that, I have meetings with owners, partners and other stakeholders of different restaurants. Post-work, I head out to review restaurants making live updates on Snapchat along the way. So in short, my life revolves around food and social media in some way or the other!”
How did you feel when you hit a thousand followers on Instagram? And then, when you hit 14,000?
“When I hit the 1000 followers mark on Instagram, the feeling was exhilarating! It was a big milestone and I was really proud of my achievement. It feels good when all the hard work and effort you put in pays off is recognized by others out there. Recently, when I hit the 14,000 followers mark, I felt on top of the world and really proud of what I’ve done with achieved with The Hungry Mumbaikar!
That being said, as my followers keep increasing, there is also an increased sense of responsibility on my end. It means putting up the best possible pictures and content on my blog and working hard every day to maintain that high level of quality that my followers expect from me.”
Do you feel like you’ve been able to develop any skills better while curating The Hungry Mumbaikar?
“As time has progressed, there are multiple skillsets which I have formed and enhanced, most notably my photography and writing skills. I have also immensely learned a lot about social media and digital marketing. Further, food blogging has given me the opportunity to improve my people and communication skills through interaction with individuals from the restaurant industry, PR industry, fellow food bloggers and other foodies out there. Everyone comes from different walks of life and have different cultural backgrounds. They have their own unique perspective about food…”
Tips For Aspiring Food Bloggers
With his in-depth knowledge on the food scene and blogging about food as well as his popularity, it made sense to hound Rohit little bit about how one can go about establishing a food blog.
What tips would you share with someone who wants to start food blogging?
“A lot goes into starting a blog and making it successful. The main thing is to be at par with current trends and cover new food & drinks places or something which are crowd favourites. Also, it’s important to have good photography skills and to write well and to learn how to leverage each social network to its fullest through the use of hashtags, etc. They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In my opinion, Instagram is the best social media platform out there for sharing your food experiences through pictures. Also, if you’re into writing detailed reviews, I would recommend you to post reviews on Zomato or have your own web-based blog such as WordPress.”
A Crash Course On The Hungry Mumbaikar
Age: 25 Education: Computer Engineering from Thadomal Shahani Engineering College; Junior College from Jai Hind; ICSE from St Mary’s Earliest food memory: Making cheese toast sandwiches with his mother at three or four years old. Favourite cuisines: Continental, North Indian and Italian Dream Food Destination: Italy. Favourite Mumbai Restaurants: Café Churchill, Food For Thought, La Folie Patisserie, Terttulia, Quattro, Yauatcha and Ziya. Favourite Mumbai Street Food: Pav Bhaji and Misal Pav
Followers on Instagram: 14.4 K
On Zomato: 4 million views, over 170 reviews and 1200 photographs
After graciously answering our plethora of questions, Rohit left us with some final insights into The Hungry Mumbaikar’s journey.
“The entire journey ever since I started off with The Hungry Mumbaikar has been fantastic! In the future, I plan to leverage Snapchat as much as I can. Also, yes I do plan to come up with my own website in which I want to curate content, not only around my restaurant reviews, but also cover other F&B brands, create awareness about what’s happening on Mumbai’s food scene and the latest trends in this city’s food circuit,” he said.
While his future plans are as large as – or even possibly larger than – his collection of followers, Rohit is thankful to all his current followers and fans; “for me, it’s the small things in life that matter the most. Direct messages and e-mails from my followers appreciating my work are the ones that have brought me the widest smiles and have been my best moments so far!”
So, go ahead and check out The Hungry Mumbaikar’s social media profiles. Allow them to take you on an amazing food trip and remind you why you have such a strong, overwhelming love for food. And then, drop Rohit a line; we guarantee that he’ll appreciate it! Check out The Hungry Mumbaikar on: