Interview: Secret sauce of The Hungry Mumbaikar

Social Samosa
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Interview: Secret sauce of The Hungry Mumbaikar

The taste of Mumbai is on the plate of The Hungry Mumbaikar, a blog created by Rohit. An assortment of his passion for food and avid use of social media is here to tease your taste buds.

All of the content that you see on the blog, The Hungry Mumbaikar, except for a few brand promotions is tasted and clicked by Rohit himslef as he doesn't believe in reposting or just curating content. Read on to know more ingredients of the secret recipe of The Hungry Mumbaikar.

Looking back, where did it all begin?

While most boys my age dreamt of becoming a pilot or a cricketer, I'd spend quite some time watching my mom and my maasi making food in the kitchen with an ambition of starting a chain of vada pav joints! And after that went successful, I’d go on to open my venture which I called The Great Indian Restaurant in London and America! I know that sounds very naive today, but such was my love for food!

Growing up, especially once I got out of college, I started experiment with food, getting exposure to different restaurants and cuisines across the city. I was also an avid user of different social media platforms, mainly Instagram, and I always liked to share my experiences with the world out there.

Back in the summer of 2015, my personal Instagram profile was flooded with pictures of food, and that’s when one of my closest friends suggested a food blog. After some thought, I renamed my Instagram handle to @thehungrymumbaikar and haven't looked back ever since!

What's in the name?

I’ve been born and brought up in Mumbai and I have deep-rooted love and respect for our city. After college, while everyone around me was moving to the States for their Masters, I could never imagine myself leaving Mumbai.

While embarking on a journey to explore food throughout the city, I wanted the name of the page to be very simple and straight forward, something that every Mumbaikar could relate to whilst traversing my food journey on social media. ‘Hungry’ has always been an adjective that has been used to describe me. One of the first names that I came up with was The Hungry Mumbaikar. It just clicked and felt right.

What is your USP in this cluttered space? How does your content give you an edge?

One of the things I really take pride in is The Hungry Mumbaikar’s originality in content. All the food that you see on my page, except for a few brand and product promotions, has been tasted and clicked by me.

I have been exploring the food scene across the city, right from Colaba to Borivali, thrice a week on an average since the last three and a half years! During my visits, I create visual content which I subsequently share on social media on a daily basis letting my followers know where I’ve been, what I tried, how my experience was, and whether they should also give it a go or not.

Original genuine content – that’s The Hungry Mumbaikar’s USP.

Further, I not only feature restaurant related content on my page, but I also extensively talk about street food joints, local restaurants, hidden gems, and other iconic restaurants part of Mumbai’s culinary heritage. I also cook at home from time to time and keep sharing my recipes.

Please take us through your content creation process. How do you stay relevant and relatable?

The most important thing for me is to connect with my followers, creating relatable content through which I can narrate and share my experiences with them.

I identify areas that I want to visit and do my research on its best restaurants, hidden gems, and local/street food joints. Whenever I’m in the area, I visit these restaurants one by one, trying out each place’s signature dishes along with my favourites and shoot content along the way.

Instagram, being a photo and video sharing platform, is all about the visual content. So, I also put in a lot of effort into creating and editing content that is visually aesthetic such that it is more engaging with my audience and thereby reaches out to more people.

This way I keep updating my content bank and then I keep doing posts on a daily basis from across Mumbai spanning different cuisines, keeping the content diverse, be it new openings in the city, events, new menus, and festive specials along with street food and local restaurants.

How do you take moolah with your efforts?

Since the last 18 months, I very selectively accept restaurant invitations. Otherwise, I explore and review restaurants anonymously as a paying customer. Plus, there’s a significant cost involved travelling across the city, almost thrice a week throughout the year. All this takes a toll on the monetary front and it’s not possible to sustain it long-term unless there’s no cash in-flow.

Hence, I enter into commercial partnerships with brands who wish to advertise their offerings or products on my page. It’s only fair as I’ve reached where I have with a lot of hard work and dedication and I’m providing the brands with a significant audience whom they can connect with.

How do you maintain editorial objectivity with the influx of brand briefs?

I understand what kind of content my audience responds to the best. Keeping that in mind, I try to make sure all promotions on my page are not too advertorial. I keep the promotional tone as neutral as possible. If the campaign brief or content doesn’t meet the standard of the page, I respectfully choose to decline the opportunity to collaborate.

One instance/experience that made it all worthwhile

It always feels great when someone recognizes your hard work and effort. Over the last 3 and half years as The Hungry Mumbaikar, I’ve won numerous awards, most notably the Best Food Blog Award at the Cosmopolitan India Blogger Awards in 2016 as well as in 2018. I’ve also been interviewed in the newspapers and on the radio, and featured by many publications as one of Mumbai’s best food bloggers.

But one feature which was really special for me was by Social Samosa last year where The Hungry Mumbaikar was mentioned as one of 2017’s Top 20 Food Influencers in India! I was really over the moon for this one because the list featured the likes of Finely Chopped, Passionate About Baking, Rocky & Mayur, and more!

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Weirdest brand brief/request ever

During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a lot of brands were doing football related campaigns. One brand requested me to apply paint on my face and don a wig matching the colours of the team I support whilst wearing the team’s jersey, pose enthusiastically as if I’m celebrating a goal, and integrate their product in the visual content. I wasn’t comfortable doing that and didn’t go ahead with the brand’s brief.

If not blogging, you would be?

I’d be thinner! I’ve put on a lot of weight eating out to make sure my audience has fresh content on a daily basis!

Jokes apart, if it wasn’t for blogging, I’d be an IT professional, as I’m a Computer Engineer by qualification.

A day in your life....

My life revolves around food! I freelance as a Public Relations and Brands Consultant, specializing in Influencer Marketing, mainly working with brands from the Food & Hospitality biz. I manage and execute their digital campaigns to create brand awareness and visibility of their offerings in order to increase footfalls and hence help boost revenue.

Besides that, as The Hungry Mumbaikar, I have this food map of Mumbai in my head – places I’d like to explore and what all I’d like to try there. I keep myself updated with new openings and keep researching for new places to check out. And when the time permits, I visit these places and share my food exploits on social media on a daily basis.

In my free time, I catch up on a few TV shows I follow and like to watch football on weekends.

Message/tips for upcoming bloggers

Your content is your identity. Create original and genuine content that is not only relatable to your audience but also reflects your passion. Be updated with current trends and the latest happenings in the domain you wish to start your blog in. Work on your photography, writing, and photo/video editing skills in order to provide your readers the best content possible. Also, understand how each social media platform works so that you can maximize your connectivity and grow your audience organically.

Your Favorite Influencer

Kalyan Karmarkar (Finely Chopped)

The Future you foresee for your Personal Brand

Being The Hungry Mumbaikar has been the biggest adventure of my life! I’ve explored food across the city and got the chance to network with like-minded individuals who share my passion for food.

One of the people who I’ve met on the blogging journey is Dr. Yaashna Rajani, an Audiologist & Speech Language Pathologist and founder of the food blog, The Gastronomical Affair. She’s gone on to become my best friend, someone who has shared my passion and supported me day in day out in my gastronomic journey, has made me a better person, and we’ll be tying the knot very soon in the coming months!

After that, as The Hungry Mumbaikar, we plan to venture out into the Travel blogging space touring some insane food destinations in India like Purani Dilli, Amritsar, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Indore! If all goes as per plan, we also hope to open up our first restaurant in 2020.

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