How do you innovate with the age-old sandwich or hot dog? Bread, cheese, fillings – is it really done and dusted? Not at all, is what we discovered at Mind The Gap, where The Fromagerie and Framroze Deli had pop ups and left customers surprised and well fed. Aside from the gluten and dairy intolerant, our attendees were unanimously delighted with Fromagerie’s selection of unconventional grilled cheeses, and Framroze’s tangy banh mis and hot dogs galore. You can connect with Rehan Mehta from Framroze Deli, and Nuzha Ebrahim on Dysco App to chat, discuss collaboration opportunities and work with them!
The Fromagerie was started by Nuzha Ebrahim, an ardent devotee of grilled cheese! It is a little home-run cheese shop where she combines the regular grilled cheese sandwich with different flavours to excite your taste buds. At the moment Nuzha and team work in a mobile manner (very digital nomad-esque), catering for private events, markets and festivals too. While Framroze Deli is the brainchild of Rehan Mehta, who before his latest venture, was working as a professional chef in Mumbai. A BBQ enthusiast, and an avid foodie, he travelled to the furthest corners of America, Japan and other countries in search of recipes.
Nuzha told us, “Framroze Deli, quite like The Fromagerie has a keen sense of flavour and respect for high quality. We’re both striving to change the Indian attitude towards bread and sandwiches. Having said that, The Fromagerie exclusively creates Grilled Cheese Sandwiches while Framroze Deli covers a wider menu.”
Given that they made fantastic neighbours at MTG, and they both share a love for everyone’s favourite carb, we wanted to know more about what inspires them, and sets them apart from other restaurateurs, particularly each other!
Why did you feel compelled to participate in Mind The Gap?
Rehan: I think the restaurant industry, and specifically the kitchen has not only been dominated by men chefs, but has always had a rowdy boys-club attitude. Fortunately, during the recent popularity of the #metoo movement, many male chefs have been called out on for mistreating women employees, and at the same time incredible women chefs are getting the attention they deserve. Some of my favourites from around the world are Christina Tosi (who I had the pleasure of working for), Dominique Crenn, Nancy Silverton, Ana Ros and May Chow.
Nuzha: Being a female chef and a feminist in a predominantly testosterone fuelled industry, participating in Mind The Gap seems like a no brainer to me.
What was the inspiration for your bread-y brands? Was it from personal preferences or a gap you wanted to fill?
Rehan: Framroze Deli combines an age-long family legacy in the business of procuring gourmet ingredients, and my experience working as a professional cook for the last few years. Our primary goal is to use incredible ingredients and fine-dining technique to make delicious, accessible, and no-bullshit comfort food.
Nuzha: The Fromagerie was a small idea that was conceived on a reality television show called Grilled that aired last year on Fox Life and since has continued to grow. The idea was to fill a seriously gaping hole in the market for a traditional American Style Grilled Cheese but also to get people to understand and appreciate the various kinds of cheeses available globally. Our goal is to build an appreciation for the humble Grilled Cheese using premium quality ingredients and fun flavour profiles.
Bread bread bread – how do you come up with your menu? What sets you apart? Even from each other?
Rehan: Most often I am inspired by something awesome I came across while travelling and eating copious amounts in the name of “research”, reading a cookbook by one of my favourite chefs, or having lunch at my grandmother’s house. She’s the best cook ever.
Nuzha: For large-scale events we try to find a balance of flavours people are familiar with as well as some that they can come to appreciate with just a little nudge from our very enthusiastic sales team. The 4 Cheese Chilly Cheese Toast has slowly become a cult favourite and every once in a while we’re able to convince out regular followers to try out some of our new menu additions.
What are your favourite unusual combinations? What ingredients have you experimented with?
Rehan: At Framroze Deli we prefer sticking to the classics. We don’t spend much time experimenting with unusual combinations, and would rather our sandwich stand out because it has been made with quality ingredients and executed simply.
Nuzha: I love to play around with seasonal produce so earlier this year when strawberries were in season, we created a savoury Grilled Cheese using Strawberries and pairing it with a luscious Brie. I love playing with fruit and creating more savoury rather than dessert sandwiches. Right now we’re doing a few trials with some beautiful Italian Truffles for a truly premium Grilled Cheese experience.
How do you engage with potential and existing customers? It must be hard getting the word out there.
Rehan: While we work on launching our first outlet, we have done a couple of popup events, starting with the Lil Flea festival last April, and followed by Mind The Gap. Our goal in doing these events is not just to spread the word, but to see how our prospective guests respond to the brand and whether they enjoy the food. As of now, we have received great feedback so we think we are on the right track!
Nuzha: Outdoor events/ Flea events are a great way to connect with people although we’re had to work very hard to screen events to ensure we’re targeting the right kind of audience. Our sales team is very enthusiastic about reeling in potential customers. From here we’ve built a small Instagram following where we’re constantly updating our location where people can find us and enjoy a Grilled Cheese. We also network through private events.
Which chefs and restaurants do you admire the most? Both in India and internationally? Have you got mentorship from any culinary experts?
Rehan: In Mumbai I have spent time working for Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque and Chef Kelvin Cheung of Bastian. While they have very different styles of cooking, I greatly admire them both for their dedication to putting deliciousness above all else.
Nuzha: Most of my inspiration I derive from social media. Instagram food pages are my kryptonite and my favourite ones are Grillmycheese from whom I drew inspiration to set up The Fromagerie in Mumbai. I love @davidthefoodie, @scottafters, @reneredzepinoma, @eatfamous among a hundred others! I love chefs like Massimo Bottura who promote sustainable eating. In India, you work with people who prepare international cuisines with no formal school training but solely on year and years of kitchen experience and you stand to learn a lot from them. Especially how to work best with the ingredients we have and how to deliver a supreme product.
What are you looking for at the moment? How can people collaborate or work with you?
Rehan: We are currently trying to identify a location to open our first outlet of Framroze Deli. Once we do, we will be looking to collaborate with or hire talented people in various capacities, including cooks, brand specialists, interior designers, photographers, writers, and most importantly food tasters/guinea pigs!
Nuzha: The Fromagerie is always looking for fresh young cooks to help us at our pop-up events. We’d love to build a larger network of clients to cater to at public as well as private events.