The pandemic shut down many businesses, and one of the hardest hit was the restaurant sector. Kitchens closed down and chefs put their tools away and for a minute, things looked bleak. However, the pandemic introduced the subtle art of selling food online – simply because people needed to eat. While one section of the world took to making ‘Dalgona coffee’, professional home chefs began to concoct recipes in their personal kitchens and started delivering food to friends and loyal customers.
Chef Karan Upmanyu was one of them. His business ‘Wood Street Sauce Co.’ is encouraging people trapped in their homes to brush up their cooking skills and enjoy delicious food with his homemade sauces.
We came across Chef Karan’s online store and got a story cooking simply with the beautiful photos of the sauces they sell.
We got in touch with Karan to learn more about Wood Street Sauce Co and how he grew his business online during the pandemic.
The story behind Wood Street Sauce Co
“Wood Street Sauce Co. is a ‘pandemic baby’. I came to Bangalore on a holiday and fell in love with the city, the people, the weather, and its food, and decided to live and work here.
I work as a chef at a restaurant in the city, but when operations slowed down during the pandemic and the consequent lockdown I wanted to keep cooking. For a while, I had the desire to create something where I could experiment during my time off; where I could offer something interesting and delicious to the city I now call home.”
While it started as a passion project, the desire is to grow it into a proper homegrown, small business.
Their complete range of sauces
At Wood Street Sauce Co., they make pantry staples; sauces and condiments that are novel enough to spice up any dish or meal, yet accessible enough that you want to have a jar or two at home at all times! Most of their sauces work well as both ingredients to cook with, and as sauces that you can simply spoon out of the jar and eat along with a snack.
Their current pantry list selection includes Asian-inspired flavours with locally sourced ingredients. Their four regular offerings are Black Pepper Wok Sauce, Fermented Fresno Chilli Sauce, XOXO Sauce (inspired by Hong Kong XO- but with Bangalore ham and dried shrimp), and Guizhou-style Chilli Crisp (which is different from Sichuan-style chilli oil).”
Wood Street Sauce Co offer a new condiment for a limited period every few weeks.
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Product care and packaging process
“All our products are packaged in recyclable glass bottles and jars that are heat-treated and sterilized just before bottling. A lot of our customers are regular buyers, so we are working on a jar-return system. But we find most people like to use them in their own kitchens.”
At present, they only ship within Bangalore, so securely wrapping jars in newspaper or paper bubble wrap is enough. As they begin expanding to other cities, they are working on efficient ways to package the jars for shipping.
A typical day in the Wood Street Sauce Co kitchen
“I really wish we had a bigger space to make our lives easier. In our small One BHK apartment in Victoria Layout, I am usually in the kitchen. Shivani Unakar, my girlfriend, takes care of the creatives and the social media, and Devyani Maskeri, my friend, helps with the logistics and the back-end work.”
Since it’s a small home-based operation, all three of them run it while managing full-time day jobs. Currently, they run weekly production and dispatch cycles.
Also, since it is a one-man production team, a typical production day is long and begins with prepping of ingredients – brining, fermenting, chopping, frying, before running off to Karan’s day job at Toast & Tonic. Then, he has to return to the actual cooking process late at night after his work.
“I make one sauce at a time, finish bottling it securely and then move on to the next. So 7 sauces, seven days a week. Deliveries are on Tuesday, my usual day-off from work.” – Karan
Relevant read: 5 professional tips for running a small business from home
How has Instamojo helped their business?
The team earlier sold their sauces using google based order forms. They personally monitored and followed up with clients, manually created payment links and so on. Once their orders started oiling up, it became important for them to find a platform that could automate these processes and take care of the above.
“It was a time-consuming process for us and not an entirely smooth process for customers. To solve this, we set up a premium online store on Instamojo with the aim of streamlining our order and inventory systems and giving our customers a smoother buying experience.”
Chef Karan Upmanyu and his team found a silver lining when everything looked uncertain. They set up a kitchen in their own home, got cooking and packaging, and sold delicious homemade sauces to a city of hungry people.
If you are looking to sell food online like Chef Karan Upmanyu, allow us to help you set up your premium online store. All you need to do is schedule a call with our team and we can help you build your online store from scratch.
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