Around 10 PM, six nights a week, a group of chefs start their night-long shift at a Versova kitchen, carefully assembling meals for their three dozen clients for the next day. At 4.45 AM, the first round of deliveries goes out to the furthest located areas — Powai, Thane or Mulund — and to the homes of early risers, like actor Akshay Kumar.
While Kumar receives his daily package of four carefully curated meals (in addition to another four home-cooked meals that he consumes), a coterie of other Bollywood stars, industrialists and corporates receive their four- or sixmeal packages with minor tweaks. It’s likely no two parcels will be the same — because each one takes into consideration the eater’s fitness goal, allergies, likes, dislikes and more. The highly customized meals are a given, considering the pretty penny each client shells out monthly for this elite dabba service.
Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt are just a few of the clients paying a lakh a month for their pre-packed meals from two-year-old 6 Pack Meals. IHM Goa grads Harsh Dixit and Mohit Savargaonkar came up with the venture in tandem with two friends — a nutritionist and a body builder. “We figured that while many people are prescribed diets by their nutritionists, it’s difficult to understand how to cook the meals, the science behind it, proportions etc. So we went back to our food science textbooks and applied all the knowledge we never needed while working at restaurants,” says Savargaonkar, who even accompanied Singh to Paris recently to supervise his meals on the sets of Befikre.
While Dixit — who was part of Yauatcha’s prelaunch team — specialises in Indian and Oriental cuisine, Savargaonkar — armed with the experience of working at top restaurants and a few farms in New Zealand — experiments with Italian, Mexican, Continental and more. A monthly package of four meals a day, six days a week would set you back by Rs 80,000, while six daily meals cost Rs 1 lakh. “We justify it by using top-of-the-line ingredients, offering a high level of customisation and by giving you the healthiest alternative without compromising on taste. If you break it down, it costs Rs 500 per meal, which is not exorbitant,” adds Savargaonkar.
The duo has been in talks with investors to scale up operations in Mumbai and to discuss the feasibility of expanding to other cities. “There’s also an increased demand for hiring chefs, which Mohit and I personally tried. It’s not easy, because there’s constant one-on-one interaction with the family, and their home becomes your work space. But we’re trying to train some of our chefs to be able to go out for a month at a time,” explains Dixit. Other exciting prospects include working with Indian cricketers, for which 6 Pack Meals is in talks with the BCCI.
What sets the service apart, and perhaps justifies the price tag, is the extensive research that’s gone into making every dish healthier without making it feel drab. You won’t find maida, butter or sugar in the 6 Pack Meals kitchen. Sweetening agents include overripe bananas, date syrup or agave syrup. There’s a ‘healthier’ Nutella too, made with raw hazelnut and cocoa, and peanut butter made of chia and flax seeds. Those with jam cravings are served a preservative- and sugar-free one made of strawberry and chia seeds or peaches and apricots. They won’t make you give up carbs either — there’s brown rice, quinoa, couscous, sweet potato and more on rotation. Bread is also made from scratch and is gluten-free, while cheese, if used, is only the fresh, unprocessed sort. The duo even takes avocado pits — “they contain 70 per cent of the antioxidants” — to dry, roast and churn out in the form of a powder. “We sprinkle a bit of this superfood on salads, and the eater might wonder why we put that bitter thing there, but we know exactly what its nutritional value it is,” says Savargaonkar.
The duo tells their clients to have cheat meals on Sundays, and don’t send out food that day (“Hey, we need our Saturday nights too,” laughs Savargaonkar), but more than half of them have requested Sunday meals too, which are sent out along with the Saturday deliveries. But even with 36-42 meals per week, there’s little scope for repetition. “Unless someone puts in a special request – like Arjun Kapoor, who wants beef kheema practically every day — we keep innovating. We understand that everyone doesn’t like everything, so there has to be a variety,” says Dixit.
- If you like cheese, get feta, goat’s cheese or cottage cheese since they are fresh and not processed.
- Make fried rice healthier by reversing the ratio of rice and vegetables to have more of the latter.
- Eat your fruits; don’t drink them. Fibere is very important to maintain a good digestive system.
- Don’t do a one-day detox or juice cleanse.
- You will break down an entire system that eats solid food.
- Good fats are good for you, so you do require some amount of them to lubricate your joints and help you function.
- Don’t go gluten free. We’re a country that eats gluten and our bodies are attuned to it.