Monday, October 5, 2015

The man with whom Pune eats out: an interview

Aniruddha Patil started to chronicle his food experiences in Pune 10 years back, and that has lead to the facebook group with over 13000 memebers and counting. Pune eat outs is a thriving community of foodies, restaurateurs, home chefs, media personnel and food bloggers which completes 10 years. So what does it take to maintain a diverse facebook group and what is the secret behind the success of Pune eat outs?
A free wheeling interview with the man behind the PEOple; Aniruddha himself.

  1. It has been 10 years to PEO, what made you start PEO?
It started as a passion for food. Till 2009, In principle I could boast of visiting almost every eatery / Thela / a fine dine in Pune.  I started sharing these experiences which were well appreciated and as they say “Kaarwan Judata Gaya”. ( I started the journey and people joined in)

  1. b. What do you think is the single greatest strength of the group which has made it a huge success lasting 10 years?
The undiluted focus and respect for food.

a compilation of great food places by the PEOple of PEO

  1. How did the concept of a peo card come up, and what were the biggest hurdles in trying to get the card accepted amongst restaurateurs and PEO patrons?
PEO must get into a model to sustain and excel from here. I spend close to 6 hours every day on PEO related activities. For it to remain what it is, I need to take it up full time and hence it needs to have a revenue model. I thought of many ideas but this won because it’s something in which the card holder benefits the most, the restaurant gets a knowledgeable customer who will praise or castigate a restaurant with all the honesty and of course I get the support to try out new things with PEO.
The challenge with restaurants was to convince them about how different it will be from other loyanties. However it was a lot tougher to get nod from the PEOple, but once the experience from early adopters started coming in it became easier. However my biggest challenge even today is to let every member know about the cards and how it works. I am sure we will change this next year.

friends of PEO , PEO card
  1. d. Have you ever thought of starting a restaurant? What would your dream restaurant have in terms of concept and cuisine?
Oh , Every Single day. I have been associated with a few ventures in the past and have tasted the waters. Even today, I do consult restaurants for food and it gives me immense pleasure and confidence as all of these places are known for their food in Pune. (Can’t name them as per my agreements with them). About my dream concept and cuisines, I will prefer to talk a little later but for sure it will have touches of India.
  1. Share the strangest/funniest posts that you have seen on PEO?
Many, especially the ones starting with “Admin, Please delete if irrelevant”.
Then there are pseudo attempts to push blogs in Posts which are not in line with the group norms
There have been posts / messages that almost accuse/ credit me of being a restaurant owner, rather owner of multiple restaurants.
Usually it’s not the post bit the comments that make a thread funny / interesting and I love the diversity we have there
  1. Your favorite memories and moments related to the group?
Again a plenty … Here are a few..
  1. I love Every Single restaurant review that’s well written and talks of a personalized experience. Love the positivity behind the thought of sharing.
  2. The PEO meets from announcements to execution still give me Goosebumps even after 10 years
  3. All the newspaper coverage we have received. The latest and detailed one in Lonely Planet was special for me.
  4. Meeting someone some 1500 Kms away from Pune who knows PEO and recognizes and compliments you for PEO.
  5. I met my wife on PEO
  6. There have been instances where a few restaurants altered a few practices owing to feedback on PEO.

  1. What are the things you hope to achieve with the PEO banner in the coming years?

  1. I want PEO to be a platform that allows the user to share their experience without any influence or bias and I am more than sure that every restaurant owner will more than happily oblige to work on the constructive feedback. This should result in a closed ecosystem which helps restaurants do well so that their customers are happier.
  2. No system or algorithm can make up for a personalized recommendation. A lot of times a simple thought is easier than the complex applications. I want these natural recommendations to continue.
  3. Of course, PEO should continue to become a platform that gives faces to places and helps people bond better.
  4. How about having the PEO food awards by the PEOple?
  5. There are ideas which should be executed in near future but guess we will wait for it for now.

Answer in one word: what food item comes to your mind when I say:
1. Pune  -  Vohuman Cheese Omelet
2. Italian - Pasta
3. North India – Sarson ka Saag
4. Southindia – Sambar and Chuttneys
5. Fusion food – Indian way to make Chinese
6. Desserts – Cheese Cake
7. Chocolate – Must have nuts in it …Say Hershey’s with almonds..
8. Monsoons – Coffee
9. Homecooked – Masala khichadi
10. Mom’s special – Methi Garlic Subji and Various Daals.
11. Wife’s speciality – Cheese Omelets
12. Home delivery – Mutton Biryani
Pasta at olive :photo credit Kainaz writer bokdawalla of Kenzy's Kitchen Korner 

Vohuman's cheese omelette .photo credit Varun Khanna of PEO group

Answer in one word: what pune Restaurant comes to mind first when I say
1. Childhood favorite - Supriya (Camp)
2. Indian cuisine - Aadrika and Dravida’s (North and South Indian)
3. Italian cuisine – Olive
4. Pan Asian cuisine – Malaka Spice and Baan Tao (Can’t choose one)
5. Great ambience – Baan Tao
6. Great Drinks – Euriska and Effingut. But for me it usually is Home with my Bar
7. Great Music – High Spirits Cafe
8. Favourite cafĂ© – I can sit in almost any. It’s more like my office. But used to love Costa

kebabs from Aadrika photo credit Ritesh tiwari of PEO group

Baan Tao , photo credit Amrita Gadre Kelkar of PEO group 
Malaka spice, photo credit Ketki Kulkarni of PEO group 

Even though the post is about Aniruddha, the pictures used are from the various contributors of PEO, because the 13000 odd contributors is what makes this food community so special.

If you wish to read more posts on Pune by me.
here they are

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