WhatsApp messages notify the 700-odd people on the contacts list of DJ Savyo Mendez’s phone about the specials for the following day. Those interested can place orders and the food — prepared by eight members of his light and sound team, and supervised by Savyo and his wife, Melna — would be delivered in the chosen time slot. Deliveries are handled by a six-member team.
“With social distancing protocols in place and restriction on gatherings, event management companies are also among the worst hit. I have employees — light and sound guys — who have been with me for years, I cannot sack them. Eight to 10 families are dependent on me. One of the boys worked in a hotel kitchen. We thought we could give it a shot and here we are,” says Savyo, of the new venture he started on April 2.The lockdown has not stopped him from spinning, in May he also conducted virtual DJ concert.
One of Kochi’s first and popular DJs, he runs an event management company in the city. On his team are people from different parts of Kerala, and each item on the naadan food-exclusive menu is a special of some of these places. “For instance kappa biryani, a combination of tapioca and beef, is a specialty of Thodupuzha. We have a guy from there so there it is,” he says. The menu is different each day. Some of the other dishes on the menu include kothu parotta, egg roast, biryani, idiyappam, appam, parotta-beef, and prawn fry.
The entire team chips in with the work — peeling, chopping, cutting and cooking. The decision to stick to naadan food is because of the team’s familiarity with the dishes. Savyo has readied a separate kitchen behind his house in Kakkanad for the work. “My wife, who is a good cook, supervises the work. We have hired a cook from Mattancherry as well,” he says.
Food is prepared based on orders so that there is no wastage. “But of course the aim is to get the maximum number of orders and at reasonable prices,” he says. Some of his contacts share details with their friends and the orders start coming in. The menu is also posted on the Instagram handle @melnastastebuds. “This way, each person makes around ₹300 daily, including what one gets from the delivery charges. We didn’t want to use any of the delivery platforms as we would have to give a percentage of the total to them as well. At a time when there are no jobs due to the restrictions, even ₹10-20 makes a difference. Most of their families depend on these guys and in such a situation, no amount of money is small. We need to adapt. There is always work, you just need to be prepared to get down and do it,” Savyo adds.