Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Networking Dinner

The fast life of Mumbai can prove to be a killer for many. Our modern live’s require us to Juggle too many balls at the same time, which eventually tires one out. What we need are endeavours which can help to break away from these monotonous lives that we live. The best way would be to go out and meet interesting people. Mumbaikars, an innovative lot, have experimented with various versions of networking, from dating meet-ups to foodie meet-ups, there’s a networking platform for every kind of interest. Discovering Mumbai features Megha Deokule, who organizes one such networking meet up called ‘Coral’, which allows people to network over great food.
Megha and Pawan, co-founders 'Coral'

Megha Deokule, the founder of ‘Coral’, is an architect turned chef. She practiced architecture for three years, after which her passion for food took over, converting her into a self-taught chef. She also runs a start-up called ‘i2cook’ which is a producer and seller of organic products like peanut butter, pink mustard and granola bars. Megha is the chef at ‘Coral’. She is accompanied at Coral by her husband Pawan Deokule, who is a marketing veteran of 10 years and runs his own digital marketing company called ‘Digicat’.
It was Pawan who came up with the idea of Coral. “He came across the concept of a Salon and believed that people could meet over food to discuss local issues or just regale one another in travel experiences”, says Megha. Coral, based on an ancient concept of ‘Salon’, is gathering of people under one roof, with food and great conversations. The dinners, usually, comprise of 15 guests and are held at Prahlad Kakkar’s bungalow in Bandra, which also operates as a dive shop during the day. The dinners have a pre-set menu and sometimes the topics for discussion are also pre decided, however, the guests are encouraged to come up with their own topics. They came up with the name Coral as it fits in with the experience the dive shop provides. “Pawan says that corals come in different shapes like the guests who attend a Coral dinner while the brilliant colours and shades of a coral signify the different cuisines that we serve from across the globe”, she says.

Indonesian Fried Chicken

“Like all passionate people we went about making arrangements and spreading the word amongst friends taking feedback and improvising on coral dinners”, says Megha about the initial dinners at Coral. It took time for Coral to popularize as they duo had decided not to advertise, and had left it to word of mouth. They started out the vegetarian organic dinners, but soon shifted to a non-vegetarian menu, realizing that the guests were majorly interested in non-veg meals. “But we always made options for vegetarians and vegans if they were at Coral”, says Megha. The demographics is not limited to any particular field so one can expect to meet people from diverse backgrounds like finance, arts, sales, travel etc.

Muhallebi - Rice flour based dessert

Organizing such a meet-up has its challenges and the Deokule’s too faced many on the way. Initially the response was a hit or miss, leading to a lot of dinners being cancelled for want of quorum. However, things started to pick up since monsoon last year, but this brought along newer challenges. They now had to figure out how to deal with well-placed guests who decided not to follow their rules. “Also we had several random people wanting to make reservations, some would not even turn up and made some unbelievable excuses when called”, says Megha. That’s when they came up with the idea of a blacklist and FAQ’s; also they started marketing only through Facebook. These solutions have helped them tide over a lot of challenges.

Roasted Herb-ed Potatoes and Chicken Pea Salad

Given the diverse walks of life that Coral’s guests come from, there is a lot to share and learn at these dinners. Megha feels that the learning’s from Coral provide learning’s for all spheres. “Our guests humble us while their beautiful experiences in various facets of life!” says Megha. Food brings people together into a uniform conversation and provides the perfect setup for an evening filled with great talks. As for their future plans for Coral, this is what Megha has to say, “Coral will take more shape in the coming year and will be available in other forms across the city through places of food. We intend to bring coral in a whole new package and believe that Mumbaikars will appreciate and teach us to give them a better experience.” We are sure that Mumbaikars across the city will take up Coral with much gusto!
If you would like to experience this one of a kind networking dinner then head over to Coral’s homepage to check out the FAQ’s and other info.
You can also Coral on Facebook

1 comment:

  1. Great Concept! It would have been good to talk about membership here.