In this fast moving world where people do not even have time for social gatherings, leave alone eating, the fad of mobile food trucks is quickly picking pace. The concept of food truck is not new to the world and even in certain parts of India; food trucks have been able to carve a niche for themselves.
However, the Northeastern States, until a few months back, only relished the existence of food trucks in channels like TLC, Fox Life and so on. But, for the first time in the capital city of Nagaland, a food truck named Muffets on Wheels was launched in Dimapur.
Talking to Shweta Raj Kanwar from TNT-The Northeast Today, Merenla Imkong, the brain child behind Muffets on Wheels recalls her journey towards converting her dreams into reality and delves deeper into the need to boost such entrepreneurial initiatives.
Muffet’s Pantry is a humble cafe in Duncan Road, a dream that started when Merenla was a young girl. The joy of cooking was always something that she enjoyed and even more so the satisfaction that she would get from feeding people around her.
Since she was in boarding school, she could not receive opportunities to pursue what she liked yet she would try to cook with the limitations even then. However, her passion kept her going.
She goes on to narrate the time when she was in her first year of college in Delhi and started saving a little bit every month from the nominal pocket money she received from her parents to the point that she even refrained from going out too much for movies etc.
She says, “At that point I didn’t realise that the money that I was saving to buy myself something nice would one day be utilised to fulfil a dream of mine. Of course I always spoke about opening a cafe back then but never gave it a serious thought until 2013. By then I had saved a bit from my college days to earning a little extra money from my cooking and helping people and such and after taking a loan from my sister I decided to go ahead with Project Muffet’s (Ms. Muffets a nickname that my family had given me). I get satisfaction from the fact that I was able to fulfil a project of mine with resources that I worked hard for and proud that I did not have to rely on others. I wanted Muffet’s Pantry to be a place where people could come in and feel like it was an extension of their own homes where they could relax over some comfort food, ‘food for the soul that is wholesome and leaves a smile to the very last bite’. The menu therefore is not confined to a particular cuisine.”
The story behind Muffet’s on Wheels
“The concept was to reach out to college and office going people who would want to grab something on the go to be able to provide yum, hygienic, filling food under 100. If you look specifically at Dimapur, it is at par with many of our cities in terms of people being busy and the need to for accessibility of convenience. Keeping that in mind, I also wanted to do my part by having food on the move which hopefully would at least help them keep their tummy satisfied which is essential for our existence.”
Interestingly, the team behind Muffets on Wheels are all young boys and girls who are eager to learn and are striving towards being self sufficient instead of relying on their parents and waiting for a ‘Government Job’. Their enthusiasm is very encouraging. The whole world seems to be going into the fad of food truck culture so why not in Dimapur, Nagaland!
Thanks to channels like TLC, Fox life, etc., people have been educated and are aware of an array of global cuisines, concepts and trends in the growing food Industry.
“In fact one can even say it’s fashionable to be up to date with the food industry and I feel it is parallel to the ever growing fashion industry. So yes the public has responded in a very positive way and it is encouraging as well as exciting”, adds Merenla.
The menu, at present, is a mix bag of fast food which is appetizing to the tummy. But the regulars comprise of hot dogs and burgers.
Merenla is a far-sighted optimistic lady. She believes that it will not be long before we see another Food truck on the road. The sky is the limit for those who are willing to go that extra mile.
However, fast-food is often equated with poor nutrition. To this Merenla argues, “I don’t necessarily agree with this because we tend to think that fast food is all fatty and unhealthy. If you think about it as a fresh salad would fall under fast-food and who can argue that it is of poor nutrition. She encourages all those who have a passion for food to come forward and take an initiative.
It may, however be noted that the lack of infrastructure in the state poses a challenge for many entrepreneurs as they have to outsource a lot of processes. Moreover, lack of support from family, who pressurise their children to look for government jobs ultimately results in dousing the passion within them. Again, lack of entrepreneurial opportunities leaves ambitious youths in a dilemma who ultimately either end up looking for government jobs or working in some MNC away from their state. Hence, government should try to encourage such young entrepreneurs by assisting them, in whatever manner possible.
To quote an American chef, author and television personality, Julia Child “find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it!”
(By Shweta Raj Kanwar)