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Biz hit by #noteban, Ggn home chefs have little on their plate


In September, we’d told you how Gurgaon’s infamous traffic snarls were helping the business of home chefs here – exhausted, irritated corporate employees wanted ghar jaisa khana for dinner but not did not want to cook, so they called these enterprising home chefs. A couple of months later, demonetization seem to have punctured that growth. Home chefs here are now struggling to procure raw materials for their delicacies due to the cash crunch, but the number of orders has gone down due to fewer home parties and more conservative spending. Even when the phone does ring, these cash-strapped chefs can accept only a few orders, thanks to the #noteban.

READ ALSO: For Gurgaon’s home chefs, a bad traffic jam means good business

Abhilasha Jain, a home chef based in Sector 56, says, “Customers are just not in the mood to throw home parties because of the cash crunch. Everyone is saving the few currency notes they have. Where weddings were initially supposed to have five events, people are cutting out the unimportant ones because it would require cash to arrange. The fewer house parties have brought my business down by 60% in the past one month.”

Sarah Rehman, who is based in DLF Phase 1, now fears losing her clients. The Gurgaon home chef says, “People pay me online, but how often can I stand in the bank queue to withdraw that money?”

Says Sarah, “I specialize in non-vegetarian food and I buy the meat from a particular shop. This shopkeeper needs cash, which I don’t have. Had I known about the move, I would have kept the meat in a deep freezer. Now, when people call, I can’t take orders beyond a certain number and I fear they’ll switch to some other home chef. I am offering them two dishes now where I used to offer four.”

Aditti Ahluwalia, a resident of Golf Course Extension Road, says, “I am feeling the pinch. I used to get special masalas from Chandni Chowk at lower rates. There is no system of online payment there and now I have to buy these spices from the supermarket, which costs more. So my investment has gone up, while there are not enough orders coming. It’s a double whammy. I don’t know how long this situation will last.”

Asked if things will get better, Sanjay Raina, a home chef based in Palam Vihar, says, “Certainly. Also, cashless transactions will benefit everyone. But there is an atmosphere of panic. When fuel prices go up, we say yaar, ab gaadi se kam travel karna padega, but after a few weeks, it hardly occurs to you. The same is the case with demonetization. People will again start ordering in bulk. However, the first two weeks, we all witnessed major loss in business – a slump of almost 50%. Customers ask me if I will be sending a swipe machine with the delivery boy. I sent them my account details instead.”

Not many home chefs are that tech-savvy, though. In fact, a community of home chefs in Gurgaon had hosted a gathering recently to teach each other to use social media to promote their venture. A home chef not willing to be named says, “Badi mushkil se Facebook seekha tha aur ab yeh sab online transactions. Both my customers and I liked our cash-on-delivery system. Demonetization is helping those who are tech-savvy. By the time I learn the new digital rules, I might lose my clients.”

And it’s not just home chefs – their customers are also missing home-cooked food, since ordering from a restaurant that accepts online payments is easier. Saurabh Sharma, who works in an IT firm, says, “The home chef I used to order from worked on a cash-on-delivery system. Now, half of the time, she says she has reached the upper limit in her e-wallet, or sometimes she says she can’t take orders because she doesn’t have the vegetables for the dish I want. A few more have hiked their prices as well. In such a situation, ordering from a restaurant seemed like a more viable option. But I miss that ghar ka khana.”

Source: Times of india