Surabhi Ganguly felt the need for balance in her life while she was working as an engineer with a multi-national company, “I’ve always wanted to create more experiences for myself. It’s hard to live a unidimensional lifestyle. I would get home from work very late, eat unhealthily and the same routine would follow. I didn’t want to waste my prime years by just working.” One fine day, after spending ten years working as an engineer, she decided to quit her job as she developed the passion for cooking in an unusual style. In 2013, she started Slyly Simple, wherein she prepares gourmet sauces, spreads and pasta from organic ingredients and even organises gourmet picnics and getaways.
Ganguly’s love for food and travel took her to Tuscany, Italy for two months where she volunteered at a farm, milked goats and learnt how to make goat cheese, saw how olive oil is processed and made authentic Italian purees and marmalades. She taught herself Italian and used this experience to make her products more wholesome, “It was not a vacation. I didn’t go sight-seeing anywhere. I had to work day and night with the family that I was staying with. I either had to help on the farm or cook for the family while they worked. I’ve used all of that experience in the products that I make.” For the past three years, her products have evolved in such a way that the sauces can be used to cook with pasta, as a pizza spread or you can even be used to blend in with your chappati dough. The sauces are made from vegetables and ingredients that are organic and sourced directly from a farmer.
Apart from this, Ganguly also teamed up with her friend, Tanya Kane, in another vertical called The Wagabond Chefs that caters for events, making wholesome food from fresh produce. “We both love to cook! So we prepare food that is made from local ingredients. We make chaats out of beetroot, jackfruit and arbi. It’s completely different but it tastes great! If we’re making lasagna, we make the béchamel out of ragi.”
She also provides for a pet-friendly home stay and picnic gatherings at ‘The Land’, a heritage building in Khed Shivapur amidst lush green patches on a hill. While arranging to work all of this out, Ganguly mentions that though she was brought up in Pune, she earlier worked in Bangalore and had to shift, finding herself starting from scratch.
“You need to know your target audience and customer base really well. It was another personal challenge to start working again because there was no boss to call and check up on me. You really have to push yourself to get at it.”
Ganguly has funded herself through the whole process of setting up this venture. She has also designed the website and other programmes to run Slyly Simple. “My decade long work experience has definitely helped me. My background in engineering has allowed me to make my work simpler. I have a programme that can tally how much of each ingredient I need, to make a certain number of jars. Even when it comes to number crunching, I am comfortable doing it on my own,” explains the entrepreneur who is the only one managing and running this venture.
The sauces are priced between Rs 220 to Rs 340 keeping in mind the quality of ingredients used to make them. There are a variety of options ranging from Spicy Tomato Sauce to Beetroot and Carrot puree and Mint and Pea puree.
The gourmet chef does not want to mass produce her products, as she believes in maintaining quality, “The sauces have a shelf life of three to four months. Even if I can make 20 jars in a week and it sells, it’s perfectly fine. But it has to be worth my while. I still want to be able to have the time to host people and cook for others,” Ganguly says as she signs off.
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