When a company announces a ‘dining revolution’, one automatically envisions a grand gastronomical fest with golden platters containing aesthetically pleasing food. And if the company in question is the vibrant food portal, Food Connection Pakistan (FCP), with clever invites in the form of inscribed plates, then one rightfully expects its launch (event) to be serious ‘food for thought’ (pun intended). However, nothing could have been farther from what had been imagined. As someone who lives to eat (and even dreams about food), the event was a serious offense to gourmands like myself.
For one, no food lover starts a launch event with a series of speeches and classroom or board meeting presentations and that too in a hall for hundreds with a crowd not crossing two digits. However, that said, the Guest of Honour, Mr Haroon Leghari, made an insightful opening, stating, “Food is not a business but a passion. It is the fundamental need of our lives and the last of the cheapest luxuries afforded to man; even the labourer on the street has a favourite dhaba that he frequents.” Although, speeches are certainly a damper at a food event, Leghari was a great choice as the chief speaker as he peppered his speech with interesting anecdotes and nuggets of information about what the world’s most prominent men like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler said regarding food.
Unfortunately, the young team at FCP was unable to transition well from Leghari’s dignified start with nearly an hour-long presentation of statistics and technical usage of their website’s upgraded features. It is remarkable that FCP has thought long-term and developed a portal as tech savvy as one would encounter anywhere else in the world. Yet as Leghari advised, there is a need to “keep it simple” since people still need to be educated about food. However, the young CEO at FCP, Nauman Sikander Mirza, defends his portal saying, “It’s not just for the tech savvy. Anyone who can operate Facebook can use our website effectively as well.”
The coming week, the portal will kick-start its new features such as its integration with Facebook, which will allow users to share what they eat, where they eat, apart from being able to make reservations online and being able to rate and review restaurants. Even more akin to the marketing strategies abroad, there will be various deals and points redemption for free meals. So, yes in their own technologically advanced way, FCP is starting a dining revolution of sorts.
However, the social media still isn’t as pervasive as we would like to believe. What we need is a lifestyle change to be wired (and be obsessive) enough that we upload every morsel that we consume. No doubt, the portal is the first of its kind, but while they are wiring their dining revolution, can we please have a tangible revolution where we can eat beautiful looking, interesting food fusions and concoctions? One wishes that FCP had utilised their launch as an opportunity to educate its restaurant clients (who were oddly missing at the event!), their patrons and well-wishers about the different kinds of food. For their next event: how about a food or dessert festival?
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012.
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