The saturday that went by was a day that was with a purpose. I planned the day so I can get out of the house around 12noon. I was done with emails and work, calls and cooking. Met up with Nishanth, Chinna & Karunakaran at CCD, Indra Nagar and we were off towards ECR by 1pm.
Where were we headed?
What is this?
ECO kitchen is a non-profit social entrepreneurship program that facilitates training and job opportunities in food retail. The Kitchen strives to serve the immediate nutritional needs of its community, as well as alleviate greater issues of illness, stigma, and poverty.
Started by Dr Sunidhi, part of YRG care, ECO kitchen moved to this facility about 3yrs ago and have been doing wonderful service to the community. [Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE) is a non-profit organisation based in Chennai, India. The activities of YRG CARE are organized around four core areas – Education, Care & Support, Research and Training.
They feed many hungry mouths
They help women stand on their feet and earn a living
They act as a go between for people who wish to do something for the needy
They also supply food to corporate and others
Where is the place?
Eco Kitchen, Unit of YRGCARE Foundation
8/2, Harischandra III Cross St
Injambakkam, Chennai 600041
Tel: 044 3040 2222
Mob: +91 98400 79001 (Ganesh), +91 98843 07150 (Sethu)
Facebook: ECO Kitchen
Twitter: ECO Kitchen
Directions: Just after Cholamandalam Artists village, you will see a Reebox store on the left. Take the road right next to it, go down the road till you hit a T junction. Turn left, and take the 3rd right. It is the 2nd property, a huge white building on that road.
Btw, the next visit is scheduled for 23rd March.. You can contact Nishanth Radhakrishnan to know more/coordinate – Ph: +91 98403 40490
What was our visit about?
Well, to be honest, I knew of these guys for years, because they used to operate from the apartment which is right next door to my parents’ place and because of the Gaitonde connection [ our families have known each other for generations]. But this was my 1st visit to the facility.
We wanted to know what we [the Foodies, Bloggers and others from Chennai] can do to help promote the place and to give them better reach and visibility. It was not just about food, it was going beyond.
Greeted by Sethu Lakshmi and her team, we were given insight into what they did, how they did it and what more they wanted to do. We were introduced to Asha, who is in charge of catering orders. She is the one you need to contact if you want ECO kitchen to cater for your family function, event or dinner. They offer quite a variety of food, only catch being it is pure vegetarian.. We were told that the South Indian meals are priced at Rs30 [Rice, sambar, rasam koottu, curry, curd/buttermilk, pickle, papad.. additional- 1 roti takes it to Rs40, and 2 to Rs45]; similarly North Indian meal was priced at Rs60 [4 rotis, daal, veg subzi, curd/buttermilk, 1 cup pulao]
Our afternoon began with a lunch they had organised for us. Priced at Rs100, it was one value for money meal. We had hot vada, chappathi, dosa, veg korma, a daal[my favorite], sambar rice, curd rice, potato curry, pickle, papad and semiya payasam. It was set in the top floor, near the open terrace. With a view of the ocean, and the occasional breeze, it was one hellova start to the evening.
After a yummy meal which included conversation with Sethu and the team, we were taken to their conference hall for a mini presentation. [the air conditioner was turned on exclusively for us.. we were also served hot delicious chai]
I learnt that ECO kitchen was actually made up of 3 segments:–
1. Kathir – where they cook and serve food to needy, help women by training them, providing them with the kiosks and food so they can earn some money.
2. Out of the box– This is the section that caters to corporates[british Council, US Consulate,Verizon at OTP and so on] and others who require meals on a regular basis. This segment funds the others
3. Kathir Dhan[Dhan as in dhanam-charity]- For ex, if you wish to feed children from a school, or the old age home, you give a certain sum of money to this division at ECO kitchen. They cook, and offer the food to the chosen sect [there is no margin, no profit made here]. You are invited to be a part of the event and if you are unable to attend, you will be send a report on the same.
Apart from this, Sethu mentioned they offered training in schools to children on hygeine, sex education, habits and other important aspects of life. What began as a venture to help those with HIV/AIDS has today spread its wings, reaching out to the community in an attempt to make a difference. They also have a tie up with sodexo as part of Sodexo’s CSR (Community social responsibility) and this has helped them over the years..
She showed us the book made from elephant poop that they used [eco friendly] and the jute bags made by women as part of the ECO kitchen [priced between Rs15 and Rs30, these would be ideal to give away things, or use for thamboolam at weddings]
She mentioned they were now serving about 6000 meals a day, but had the capacity to serve upto 9000 meals a day. Which would help them immensely [money wise and reach wise]
So, if any of are hosting a party and wondering who to call for catering, I request you to reach out to ECO kitchen!!
The tour follows…………