Adding an Exotic Touch to the Art of Gifting
Gifting gourmet foods is one of the most refined ways of conveying your love to a special one. Wondering what gourmet really means? In simple terms, gourmet is edible luxury food art. When simple elements of daily cooking like vinegar and olive oil are transformed into something more unique with a distinctive flavour like lemon olive oil spray or Calvi white wine vinegar, gourmet food is born. Characterised by high quality, accuracy of preparation and artistic presentation, it is perceived, quite accurately, as the luxurious and elite form of food consumption.
The high quality of gourmet food is reflected in every step of its creation, be it the ingredients, the process or the final finishing touches. The ingredients used are usually ‘exotic’ and unusual, available only in specific places, in specific conditions or seasons, and limited in quantity. While this seasonal, non-native aspect of gourmet renders it rare and unique, the elaborate preparations and artistic presentations are what make this style of cooking so highly anticipated and appreciated above the rest.
In a way, gourmet is an experience, and the time and care spent in procuring the ingredients, preparing, displaying it combines into one aesthetically balanced meal. The luxurious food style reflects the people, culture, and the place it belongs to. It comes as no surprise then, that gifting gourmet in European countries is so highly appreciated, and the roots of this tradition are rapidly interlacing with those of India’s rich culture.
Since food is a language of its own in our country, gourmet is the perfect gift for every occasion. Be it a wedding anniversary or welcoming a new life into the family, gourmet can be gifted in versatile ways, making for timeless gift solutions.
Gourmet Gifting Made Easy and Accessible
Looking for exotic unusual ingredients and deciding upon a good assortment of gourmet food for a loved one is not only an enriching experience but also time consuming and slow. This is where The Gourmet Box comes in.
The Gourmet Box is an online gourmet food store which specialises in curating and delivering gourmet gift boxes across India. You can either opt for pre-curated gift boxes with a predefined assortment of gourmet goods, or create a customised box, based on your understanding of the person you are gifting it to. The company offers a wide range of choice of ingredients and food items to choose from, and every unique request is satisfied.
Encouraged by the delectable suggestions available on their website, BP Guide decided to catch up with their founders, Himanshi Vora and Janice Shah to know more about the venture.
The Gourmet Box: Make Gifting Good Food Hassle-Free
One of the pioneers in the business of gourmet gifting, The Gourmet Box has been delivering elite food experiences to homes since the last 7 years.
Former business professionals, Himanshi and Janice were pursuing their master's in the UK, when they first began to experiment with different cuisines and recipes and discovered their passion for food. When they came back to India and tried recreating some of those exotic recipes, they ran into trouble finding the right ingredients. The gourmet market was a foodie’s nightmare back in those days with its random stack of brands available in a haphazard fashion all over the country. In stores filled up with overwhelmingly unorganised supplies of gourmet ingredients, the duo stumbled upon a gap in the gourmet market: a hassle-free experience of purchasing and discovering gourmet food products. And this is how The Gourmet Box came into existence in mid 2013, driven by the hopes to provide an organised, well informed platform for gourmet food products in India.
Gourmet gifting had just been introduced in India and so the company focused on organising, curating, and delivering gift solutions and ingredients in India. We talk to them about the process of starting up a new venture in an unexplored market sector, the challenges they faced on the way and the process currently used by them.
"We wanted to have a website, a space where orders can be given, brands are easily available and products are easier to find. We have sought to deliver a wholesome experience of ordering and discovering gourmet food products and ingredients."
Janice Shah – Co-Founder, The Gourmet Box
The Gourmet Box: The Journey So Far, with Himanshi and Janice
- Q. Tell us about yourself and your background.
- Himanshi: Janice and I founded The Gourmet Box 8 years ago. I studied Bachelors in Management and worked for a few years, then I did my Masters in International Business and worked in a boutique consulting firm for a few years. We had been wanting to start something and our passion was in the food business and we saw a need for this.
Janice: I studied International Banking and Finance. I went abroad to study and around the same time developed an interest in food. I started experimenting with food, making it, trying different cuisines, discussing recipes and restaurants. When we came back and tried making some of those recipes here, we ran into trouble finding the right ingredients. We saw a gap in the market for gourmet ingredients and food products. What we wanted to do was make it convenient for people to buy ingredients and create different types of food.
- Q. What led you to create The Gourmet Box?
- The availability of ingredients has changed absolutely in the last 8 years since we started out. It’s not like gourmet food was not available. It was, but there would be random brands that weren’t curated and you had to figure out from a large selection if something was good or not. We started with the aim to have a website with very good ingredients, and a place where people can order gourmet gifts. Since then we have also found very good local brands and have started a discovery program for quality products.
- Q. How do you source featured products?
- What we realised is that when you walk into gourmet food stores, you often feel overwhelmed by the options. For instance, if you go looking for pasta, there will be dozens of pastas. We decided to curate products instead, so there are fewer options but of very good quality. We started by reaching out to importers who had good quality products with consistent supply. We also found many local brands that were too small and had trouble getting into the big box stores but were of very good quality. We have now carved a niche where many local brands reach out to us. We then do a lot of independent research before onboarding them.
- Q. What are some unique challenges of delivering food across the country?
- We use temperature controlled packaging for perishables and bubble wrap for glass. Delivery of fresh produce that is time and temperature sensitive is limited to Mumbai. We also use third party delivery channels like FedEx but have come to realise that these third party agents are not very careful with the packages and sometimes they can be all dumped together in a heap. To minimise damage we ensure everything we send out is very well packed. Very rarely have products arrived that are completely damaged and in those cases the customers reached out to us and we refunded or replaced items.
- Q. At what point did you introduce gourmet gift boxes?
- We started in mid 2013 with gourmet food subscriptions and gift boxes that we curated each month! People were repeating orders for some boxes, either as gifts or for personal use and we realised that the products we curated would be appreciated on their own as well. And that’s when we began retailing the products we were curating.
- Q. Any interesting requests or orders you’ve received that you’d care to share?
- Most purchases are from our website, but we customise boxes for all our corporate orders and each of them will have unique needs. One client wanted curated boxes for Women’s Day but they wanted wellness and spa related products as well. We are a gourmet food company but can include things like sheet masks, some sort of face packs or scented candles. Another client wanted boxes that also gave back to the community in some way so we included handmade diaries that were made by rural women and gift cards made with plantable seed paper.
Product Showcase: The Gourmet Box's Most Delectable Offerings
The Chocolate Haven Hamper
The most sought after product on The Gourmet Box’s website is this irresistible chocolate hamper. A perfect gift for your chocolate obsessed loved ones, the gift box boasts an unparalleled selection of tempting chocolate treats, all hand arranged in a sophisticated printed box with a personalised gift tag. You can get it from The Gourmet Box for ₹ 2,275.00.
The Protein Bakeshop Healthy Truffles
These high protein biscuits are just one of the several mouth-watering culinary wonders from the in-store bake shop. The fittest biscuit in town, its macros work well for a low carb diet and the taste will leave any chocolate lover satisfied. The perfect solution to satisfying those cravings with none of the calorie guilt! Available in almond, cashew caramel, peanut butter and dark chocolate flavours, you can get a 60 gm pack for ₹ 395.00 from The Gourmet Box.
The Floral Gift Box
One of the essentials on the store’s website is the floral box, a 12 x 12 inch gift box, with a mesmerizingly elegant large floral print. Each box is filled with colourful filler paper with the customer’s choice of products hand arranged along with faux florals, before being closed and fixed with a ribbon. This beautiful floral gift box is available for ₹ 550.00 on The Gourmet Box.
Where Can You Find Them?The Gourmet Box
Getting Up, Close and Personal with Himanshi and Janice
- Q. What are your own interests and how did you spend time during the lockdown?
- Janice: We are such foodies that even our spare time is spent in this pursuit! I love experimenting with recipes. During the lockdown we had a few weeks off but since we run an essential service we were back at work fairly soon. We spent sometime building a better website and honestly we were just pushing to get orders out as fast as we could.
Himanshi: The time at home was often spent in food related activities. I experimented with recipes and pandemic specials like banana bread! I also got a little time to refocus on the business and operations, to give better service.
- Q. With your passion for food turning into work, do you still enjoy it as much?
- We still enjoy it. When we come to work we are like kids in a candy store! We get a lot of samples from companies looking to get onboard and we get to discover the best products. Everyone at the office loves food and we test out great ingredients, we are still so passionate about it!
- Q. Please tell us about one of your own memorable food stories.
- Janice: We had gone to try a Korean restaurant together just before the lockdown. It was a tiny hole-in-the-wall but had the most authentic and amazing Korean food. Ever since we have wanted to go back and try more of their food. One of my earlier food memories is about helping mom in the kitchen make lasagne sheets as they were not available back then. We had a lot of recipe books from across the world and would try and make things we had never tried before. By the time I was 8, I could make a meal with my mom’s help.
Himanshi: I joined the party a little late. My food journey began when I went away from home to study. Eating out all the time was expensive and that pushed me and others to cook. I got to try so many dishes and discovered new ingredients.
Any Recommendations for Buying Great Food Gifts?
We see on a daily basis that what makes food gifts special is the message that you attach to it. If you have a memory, for example, of a great breakfast together and you put together a gift box with ingredients for a similar breakfast, that really makes it special.
It also depends on what the person likes, say for instance you’re giving a gift to a coffee lover. If you know the person, personalise the gift. Also check the shelf life of every product you are including in your gift. We have a minimum 30 day shelf life for any product we ship out so even if transport takes a few days, the recipient still has enough time to enjoy it.