Talking to Restaurant India, Rajiv Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO, Culinate talks about creating food experiences.
A mash-up of ‘Culinary’ and ‘Curate’ Culinate was started by Rajiv Kumar three years back when Culinary to him was science of putting together stuff (High quality, sustainable, Ingredients in our case); Curating an art of finding recipes from across the globe, match up with locally available ingredients and deliver an authentic, awesome experience. The brand has now grown to 5 outlets expanding wings to Noida and Gurgaon.
How are you different from other delivery players?
We are a ‘Delivery Only’ outlet so far. Unlike a food ordering service, we are invested in the entire value-chain. From variety to quality, to delivery, everything is controlled by us that creates an amazing experience. Food travels through word of mouth faster than expected thus organic growth is our first strategy. Our customer service matrix looks for hack growth through prompt users to refer at key moments like when they love our food. We have our own APP and gels well with our TG, who's middle to senior level executive, conscious of his health, not so much on price point.
You are serving cuisines from 6 continents and a menu with a spread of more than 250 dishes. How difficult/easy it is for you to come up with the orders as you are serving multi-cuisine?
We always wanted to be a multi-cuisine delivery kitchen, offering light, nutritious and wholesome ready-to-eat meals to our customers and our differentiation is the ease with which we manage the enormity of our menu and offer choices to our customers. While designing the menu we looked for inspirations from across the globe and found some tricks that would efficiently help us manage a menu this big. We innovated a lot and worked on standardization, backend technology, and demand prediction.
We see there is a sudden rise of gourmet food in India and it is not restricted to fine dining anymore. Why so?
A lot of credit goes to the customer of today, who is well travelled, well read, not afraid of trying different cuisines, challenging their palette. Also, the advent of TV series like Masterchef has has exposed India to global cuisines. Gourmet is no longer a niche, it is fast becoming mainstream, at least in larger cities and online ordering is democratizing the process of ordering On-Demand food. Fine Dine is still restricted to a chosen few, with people visiting Fine Dine establishment on occasions. Gourmet delivery is now associated with Fun dine, without the hassle of table reservations, long waiting hours, following dress code, fighting the traffic menace. Globally, “Dinning is the new Eating out” and Culinate excels in providing the experience to its new age customers.
How are you trying to bridge the gap of quality and consistency in online space?
Consistency can be achieved through standardisation, use of technology, proper training and stringent control over processes. This has been a focus right from the beginning at Culinate. Our packaging has been appreciated by one and all, especially online space has a fundamental disadvantage, any issues with food/service can only be dealt with considerable time lag and that can be an arduous task.
How many orders you get daily on an average? What is the average ticket size?
We do about 350-400 orders a day from Noida and South Delhi outlets, we’ve recently opened Gurgaon, which should start contributing from April 2018. We aim to do 2,000 orders a day by end of FY 2018-19. Our average ticket size is Rs 400.
Tell us about Culinate-on-Wheels and Culinate-On-Greens. How is the response?
Culinate on Wheels is unique collaborative marketing platform for us. We have collaborated with RWAs, Corporates and Food festivals to offer them an exotic culinary experience at their doorstep. It is working very well for us so far. Whereas, Culinate on Greens is a utopian concept, focused on French Bistro style lush lawn with kids playing area and family dine-in area. The first Culinate on Greens is coming up in Noida Expressway and shall be ready by the end of summers.
What is the use of Ultrasonic Technology as you are one of the first adopter in the segment? How is it making the work more efficient?
Ultrasonic cleaning has been used in precision machines industry for very long. The concept remains safe for cleaning fruit, vegetables and meat alike. The need arose when we set up our Cold Pressed Juice plant. We had to look to keep the food produce pesticide-free, chemical-free, color-free and pathogen free. Thus arose the need for higher degree of ozonated water. We collaborated with a manufacturer that has patent pending ultrasonic based fruits and vegetables cleaning and decontamination machines. They built us the ozone bubbling and sonication machines that cleans and sanitizes food produce and also increases their shelf life considerably. Lab results have shown, the machine kills 99.99% of bacteria and other harmful pathogens in the food produce.
This machine also helps us save 25-40 litres of water every day thereby proudly contributing to the environment while cooking the most amazing cuisines. Our kitchens are steam cleaned 3 times a day. We recently scored one of the highest rankings on Zomato Hygiene ratings in collaboration with Equinox Labs. It is also published on our Zomato Page. So when you order from Culinate, you can be assured of a healthy, hearty, and exotic experience.
What is your plan expanding the brand both online and offline?
Culinate started with one outlet in November 2015, now we have 5 across Noida, South Delhi, and Gurgaon. It has been an exhilarating experience, especially being bootstrapped. Growing on Shoe String budget, without compromising on Quality and service, to 5 locations is very enriching. We have plans to open 5 more outlets in the coming Financial Year.