Bhavin Chandarana talks to Tandoori

Posted on Movers and Shakers Dec 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
Bhavin Chandarana talks to Tandoori

Bhavin Chandarana, New Business Development Director of the award winning Simtom food company talks to Tandoori


What made you and your father want to launch a food company?

It was my dad who first set up the company over 30 years ago from our small home in Leicester. It all started from filling pickles into jars from a kitchen table. This was all done by hand and as you can well imagine, the work was very labour intensive. The filled jars were then loaded into the back of my dad’s car and delivered to a few ethnic stores in and around Leicester. It was a welcome alternative to my dad’s professional training as an accountant. The company’s trading name was Timtom, which later became Simtom.


Was setting up the business a difficult thing to do or did you feel that there was a gap in the market for Indian food products?

I guess it was ‘an Asian thing’ to start with and when my family came to the UK from Tanzania in the mid seventies, a viable potential for new business was clearly sited in the Asian food industry, bearing in mind that companies like Patak’s and Sharwoods were already supplying Indian foods to the public and later to the catering trade.

 

Why would anyone use ready-made sauces and pastes when they can cook with fresh ingredients?

There was a time when ’ the taste guru’s’ would probably turn their noses up at the ‘ready made’ market for Indian foods. Nowadays the products are very authentic and constantly driven for quality by the vast array of top chefs and good food experts.


How do you come up with ideas for new products?

Although the Indian food market is well serviced with quality products from a whole host of Indian food producers, there’s always room for introducing new and innovative products. In the past, we have mostly responded to customer requests to further develop products, but we now try to be a lot more proactive to the growing tastes of a consumer whose taste for Indian foods is highly developed and ever more demanding.


What do you like to eat yourself and why?

My favourite style of cooking is a Punjabi style curry. 


Outside of running a successful Indian food company, what are your interests and hobbies?

I am a keen table tennis player. I also like to get to the gym a couple of times a week, though visiting all those lovely Indian restaurants hasn’t helped the size of my tummy!  I also keep in touch with old university friends and we try and make a point to meet most weekends. 


Who would be your ideal dinner guests and why?

It would be Lord Karan Bilimoria (and no, I did not get paid to write this!). I truly admire what he has done for Cobra Beer, in such a small space of time.


What new things and innovations are coming up for Simtom in the near future?

We have already launched our Restaurant Style products for 2008 which really stand tall against any good Indian restaurant meal. We have also developed a range of four exotic pickles and chutneys which are mostly for the premium sector and we are in the process of launching a new marinade product which will feature three flavours: tandoori, tikka and spicy mango.


What advice would you give to any budding food company entrepreneur?

In brief, it’s simple to make your own opportunities and luck. The key is to have a solid team behind you to execute the initial inspiration.  Another critical fact which has helped to develop Simtom in the past 18 months is the art of delegation.

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