Aug 25, 2016
Food trucks are a growing trend, especially in cities with comparatively open spaces like Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. The concept of food on wheels is intriguing to many as it is a mix of creativity and comfort. In a country like India, where food is such a big part of our culture and lives, these trucks are definitely catering to the right audience. So, food trucks are here to stay with interesting menus and concepts.
Archana Singh has taken a step further by opening Asia’s first all-women food truck in Bangalore. We spoke to her about her latest venture, Seventh Sin, the challenges she faced and what to look forward to in this interview.
How did you come up with the idea of an all-women food truck?
The concept of a food truck came up about two years ago. Being quite a foodie myself and as someone who loves to cook, I thought why not do something in the food industry and a truck seemed interesting. In a city like Bangalore with bad traffic conditions, I thought why not take good food into neighbuorhoods instead of people venturing out. As for an all-women food truck, I wanted to be someone who employs other women; I’ve worked all my life and believe them being independent no matter which strata of society they come from. Women are also known to be hardworking and care a lot about nutrition and food, specially when it comes to their families so I thought why not have a truck run only by women!
Tell us about the team behind Seventh Sin.
My CEO and friend, Praveena Nandu has worked in the field of children’s education and is also a dancer. My girls in the truck come from underprivileged backgrounds, those who have had to deal with issues of life and domestic violence. They are also sometimes the only bread earners of the family. They are not trained chefs, but have been trained and mentored by our team of in-house chefs, and now can whip up any cuisine from any part of the world, and also manage the finances of the business. I have worked in a corporate set-up all my life and was also in early childhood education till last year. I enjoy working with children and food. Having worked with them for five years, and have the privilege of doing so even now, I decided to venture into food and launch Seventh Sin almost a year ago.
In a city like Bangalore, where food trucks are common, how do you stand out?
Firstly, we are run by women. We would like to focus on working with diversity and HR groups of companies and have a flat rate for women on one day in a week. We would also want to employ more women in our company as we grow and expand. Our menu is amazing and it changes every day. One can walk in to be surprised as to what to order and eat on that particular day. There is no truck that serves ‘glocal food’, which is global cuisine with an Indian twist and turn it into simple comfort food. Also, we want to do our bit for society. We keep one day aside to distribute free food at orphanages, temples, churches, mosques and other houses of worship. We will also be available for anyone who knows or needs food for underprivileged areas in Bangalore. We plan to drive there and distribute free food once a week. Lastly, we want to focus on children. We want to be the first choice for birthday parties for children. Parents need to only get us the parking permission and we will come over with fun, games, nutritional fun food and also give children an experience inside the truck and whip up some of their favourites.
Tell us about the food and the inspiration? Give us a sense of the menu.
Our menu changes every day. No two days will have an identical menu and that is the variety we are looking to serve. We want to bring in new flavours, comfort food and something that will suit everyone’s needs. Our menu includes fresh salads, chicken tikka pasta, malai veggie risotto, biryani rice risotto, Indonesian or Sri Lankan biryanis, quesadilla with Chettinad sides, Indo-Pan Asian rice bowls to name a few. Our desserts will also include Indian flavours like elaichi and paan by Natasha Patrao.
Did you face any challenges while setting up? How difficult was it to get permissions?
Setting up was very tough. The reason we got delayed with the launch were manifold – it’s tough to get the right set of mechanics or engineers to work on the remodeling. It was quite tough to get the vehicle delivered on time and involved a lot of mechanical work. And after all this the truck has to be able to take the weight and suffer the tough roads and traffic, but yes everyday is tough and we are managing. It is also quite an unregulated space and thus there is no particular ‘permissions’ one needs to take. However, following certain rules like parking only in designated parking spaces, not blocking traffic, keeping the local authorities informed with respect to garbage disposal etc is something we do. Also, we prefer parking inside neck park premises, residential complexes and schools and colleges.
How are all the tasks divided among the team?
I founded and fund the company, and Praveena runs the show. We run a successful bistro for a well-known corporate in Bangalore and have an entire team functioning out of there. We also have a central kitchen and office on the outer Ring Road, Mahadevpura from where we cater to events, parties, etc. and then there is the team on the truck. The tasks are basically divided between Praveena and me, and we then delegate the rest to the team. But mostly everything is hands on. Everyone has an opinion (it has to do with food so obviously everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion/feedback/advice is taken on board and implemented in menu planning and functioning of the company.
Take us inside the food truck – do you cook in the truck?
For fun yes, and to monitor hygiene levels, but the real heroes are the girls who run the show and whip up the yumminess. The truck is completely stainless steel and there is a lot of emphasis given on hygiene and waste disposal. The truck has a water tank, gas stoves, UPS, 4 burners including a Chinese burner and a hot plate, LED lights, and a microwave. It also has storage for the food and take away material.
What goes into the menu creation?
Everyone gives their opinions and their inspiration. With an ever changing menu on a daily basis it’s as much inspiration as we can get. Family friends, friends of friends, TV shows, well-known chefs and even childhood memories are what lead to our menu creation. We also plan to have a little wish bowl on the truck for customers to drop in a little note on what they would like to eat next time they come, that should also give us enough time to think about it and create it.
Give us a sense as to how much food is prepared daily.
The prep is done at the central kitchen in the morning and some of our food is pre-cooked while most of it is cooked in the truck. The truck is loaded and ready to hit the road by 10 am.
How many people eat daily at the food truck?
We just launched so we will have to wait and see. Although, we expect to reach out to at least 150 – 200 customers a day. That’s realistically how long the truck can function with the UPS back-up.
Do you believe the food industry is fairly male dominated?
I think the hospitality industry is a little male dominated with the perception that women can’t work long hours and with hotels and restaurants being open till late the perception continues. However, there is a lot of change with women bartenders, women chefs, women managers at restaurants in the industry. We hope to change the perception.
Location: Changes on a daily basis. Those interested need to login to Facebook for the updates and they are also working on an app.
Timings: 11 am – 6 pm/ 6 days a week. Open for events, birthdays and any other occasions through the evening with prior appointments and bookings.
Cost: Rs. 50 – Rs. 200