Issue 120 | Jan-Mar 2020

Culinary Connections

For the founder of private home dining company Chef’d CLUB Mr Ashish Poddar (Business ’17) good food and good conversation go hand in hand.

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A passion for cooking, entertaining and experimenting with new flavours led Mr Ashish Poddar, a marketing and strategic planning professional, to start a business so he could do just that. The result? A private home dining experience company named Chef’d CLUB, in which Mr Poddar isn’t just the founder, but also its chef and orchestrator. “It’s about engaging the guests, both through the food as well as by adding an element of surprise and delight,” he says.

Friends and family weren’t especially surprised when Mr Poddar, who holds an Executive MBA from NUS, took the plunge. “Although not formally trained, I’ve spent some 22 years cooking and hosting lavish dinners for my nearest and dearest,” explains Mr Poddar. “Their consistent positive feedback coupled with frequent urging that I consider a business in F&B, motivated me to host my first tasting session for six guests.”

We can all appreciate slow, home-cooked food, and so leveraging on — and refining — that concept has a huge mass appeal. I personally enjoy interacting with the diners, and answering the questions they might have about their specially-prepared three-hour dinner. 
Mr Ashish Poddar, founder and head chef of Chef’d CLUB

Smoked chicken biryani.
And with that, Chef’d CLUB was born in March 2019. The concept is simple: Mr Poddar creates and conceptualises the menu — usually a five-course meal of progressive Asian cuisine — tries it out and publicises it on the company’s Facebook page at least a month and a half in advance. Keen diners reserve a spot. Up to 10 guests per sitting are able to enjoy this intimate home dining experience, which is hosted up to four times a month. “To date, our menu has not been repeated,” says Mr Poddar, who now works with a core team of five, which assists him with cooking, plating and other operational tasks. As team leader of this growing enterprise, Mr Poddar found his EMBA course useful in many aspects. “Having culinary skills is key. But knowing how to plan and execute an effective marketing strategy helps me stand out,” he says. “This is crucial if I hope to sustain the business.”  
Grilled prawns with special Chef’d white sauce.
From time to time, Chef’d CLUB holds free tasting events and the team also accepts requests for cooking workshops or private dinner gatherings among family or colleagues, which Mr Poddar considers as opportunities to attempt even more dishes. “As Singapore’s food culture continues to mature, my own experiments with Asian and Indian flavours have also grown,” he says. “And though the buzzword here is authenticity, creativity has never been far behind.”  
To reserve a seat at Chef’d CLUB, go to facebook.com/pg/chefedclub

Text by Min Ee Mao. Main Photo by Mark Lee. Food photos by teddiefoodvoyage.

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