Although I was born and bought up in Guwahati, I have spent quite some time outside the region – in Kota, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore and traveled to almost all the states of India. Wherever I went, I always had to face one common dialogue, “Tum Northeast wale to kuch bhi kha lete ho (You guys from the Northeast eat anything).”
The statement became too familiar as I stayed in the college hostel, where anyone and everyone would question my taste-buds. It got very irritating as people who don’t even know the names of the Northeastern states, started questioning our food habits.
Thus, the ‘Guwahati Foodie’ Facebook group was born in 2009 – to make people aware about the cuisines of this part of India. The rest, as they say, is history.
Having only like-minded Northeastern members in the group, we started putting in information about our food and the recipes. At that time, it was fun and a hobby that we started growing up to and no one thought of the prospects of the group at that time. The Facebook group wasn’t very active but when we get time, we used to upload original photos, some recipes and thus the group moved. Members used to add their like-minded friends and discuss mostly about where to get good food, or who can cook Northeastern food for small treats etc.
Things picked up speed when Randeep from Askme.com contacted us telling that they wanted to do an event with us as their local partner. At that time we had around 3,500 members in the group, but somehow they thought that we could do it. It was then that we found out the Guwahati Foodie group could be much more than a Facebook group. (Askme.com did a series of foodie meets across India in places like Lucknow, other than Guwahati.)
Once we felt the need to make the group more professional, we made it private to monitor the content better. Strict codes of conduct were laid and we took a tough stand against plagiarism and abusive behavior. Anyone found copying pictures or content from the internet and post those in the group to get some brownie points were banned. Fake profiles, harsh and abusive language were all banned. Actually, we filtered the group to maintain quality and the efforts were lauded by the members. Now, we have crossed 19,000-mark making us one of the most vibrant foodie groups of the Northeast.
I believe that people follow, or rather join, Guwahati Foodie not just to upload photographs of the food they ate somewhere, but also because the group provides a platform for sharing recipes and ideas. People share their own experiences at a certain place, with a certain food and also ask for recipes or ask for solutions regarding cooking, eating out and anything and everything related to food. In between all that, our preference for authentic Northeastern cuisines remains.
Apart from recipes, ratings and feedbacks about local eateries are also discussed in Guwahati Foodie group and that has become a vibrant discussion-point. People opine why they like or dislike an eatery, and the owner can work to rectify them. Also, restaurant owners use this platform to tell public about their events and offers – thus providing a bridge between the eateries and the consumers, in an open platform.
Apart from these activities, we also organize events related to food – the most special of which is our annual Guwahati Foodie meet-up. The first one was held last year at Brahmaputra Ashok and the second one this year was held at Yo! China. Other than that, we organize small meet-ups, cooking classes and food festivals. Right now we have our website (www.guwahatifoodie.com) and android app in the Google Playstore (Guwahati Foodie). People can also connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest; because, food binds us together!