You need to be a foodie, to understand the language of different cuisines. That’s what Nikhil Chawla is. More than a YouTube video-blogger, he is a food fanatic, which connects him instantly with his audiences. He is also, the first video-food blogger of India, in which he takes enormous pride.
It was an excellent opportunity for Interview Times to have an exclusive interview with the founder of HMM, the YouTube channel, which very recently crossed over 5 lakh subscribers. Apart from that, HMM is quite popular on social media as well. It has over 2.1 million followers on Facebook and nearly 90000 followers on Instagram.
This is how the conversation went with Mr Nikhil Chawla-
How was Nikhil Chawla as a child?
As a student, I will say, I was kinda average, who believed in the conception of understanding a concept rather than rot-learning. I still advise all the students to understand the concept well- this will enable them to apply the skill in practical situations in the later years of his/her life. Rot learning may be useful for receiving good marks but has minimal application in real life.
As a child, I was a big foodie. Not only me, but my whole family was also a foodie. Therefore, it was from the very beginning of my childhood days that I was tempted to taste various cuisines.
When did the concept of HMM come into being?
To be honest, I also precisely don’t know when I turned into a food blogger. I started food blogging as a part-timer. I was and still working in the real-estate sector. Therefore, for many of my clients, I had to visit many restaurants. Then, at some point in time in 2012, someone introduced me to Zomato reviews. Those days, the concept of food-blogging was not strong enough.
In fact, we are the generation that started the idea of food blogging in India. From us, our successors got inspired, and today we see, food blogging and V-blogging is one of the booming sectors in the Indian market.
Coming back to HMM, within a year of being a Zomato reviewer, I became quite a successful reviewer in Delhi. In fact, during the latter half of 2012, I was the best Zomato-reviewer present in Delhi. All good restaurants started inviting me to review their dishes.
In 2013, I conceived an idea of commencing my own platform. I thought to myself- “What if Zomato gets closed one day???” This idea led me to start my Facebook page. I started delivering the reviews on Facebook, as I believed it to be a bigger platform to connect to the audience. However, because of PR pressure, later, I had to build my website as well. It is merely because of the fact- the owners of the restaurants said, “You are getting great reviews on Facebook, but why don’t you have a website.”
Things were going pretty good till late 2016 until a day I watched a show on Netflix. I got much inspired by the show and decided to start the video-blogging on Youtube.
I can vouch for the fact that I am the first video food blogger in India. After me, various other YouTubers got inspired and started their channels.
Initially, youtube was tough as we were showcasing exceptional international cuisine in Delhi. However, in December 2016, I casually went to Sadar Bazar market and took a two and half minute video of Nand Lal’s Chole Bhature. It instantly got hit and within days received 10 lakh views, which at that point of time was a great accomplishment for me. It gave me the right direction and touchwood; from that day, there is no looking back.
Did you face any difficulties, initially while setting up the channel?
To be honest, again, I did not face many difficulties at the initial level.
One advice, I will like to present to all the young enthusiast, who want to expand their career in the YouTube field. Always take a YouTube career as a part-timer. Always, try to do a job along with it. It will help you to be financially stable at the primary days of your channel. Once, you notice that your YouTube income is twice or thrice your job’s salary- you can immediately leave your job. But till then, always try to do two things at a time for financial assurance.
The same thing, I also did. I never left my real-estate work, which helped me to be financially stable.
How do you manage time for both your profession, as each one of them is time-taking?
It’s a lot of sacrifices and hard work. In the past three to four years, I haven’t taken a leave from my work for my family. However, I feel- it’s essential for all of us to work hard so that during crunch situations, we have ample resources with us.
You have visited a lot of states for food tours and reviews. Which state gave you the best experience?
Taste-wise, quality-wise, and price-wise it has to be undoubtedly Kolkata and Amritsar.
You are known for your honest reviews- good or bad, you say it instantly. Don’t you feel the pressure of the food owners, who are nearby you- at that point of time?
I always feel that the reviews of the food bloggers and video-bloggers matter the most to many customers. They come from a long way- to taste the dish that we have reviewed. Hence, if we don’t give an honest opinion, I personally feel that we cheat the customers.
Regarding the owners, being offended. I am a customer first and reviewer next. I pay for the food I review, therefore- I have the right to say whether it’s worth or not worth of the money spend on it.
From where did the idea of the post-lockdown series came to you?
During the CO-VID lockdown, many street-vendors and restaurants owners called me for promoting their cart or restaurant, in return of which they would provide HMM with the promotional amount that we charge. However, you see the fact that these people are already in huge loss. If I promote them, it can help the owners, the workers and the families to be somewhat financially secured.
Therefore, I decided that this year, I will not charge a single penny for promoting any restaurant or a street vendor. Sometimes, you don’t work for money. You work for humanity.
Do you plan to visit Odisha Someday?
Sure, just after the lockdown, we have plans to visit Kolkata, Odisha and Kerela.
Any advice to young YouTubers?
Always be passionate. Give your 200 per cent and yes, as I said above-begin your YouTube career while having a secured job in hand.
Image Source- Hmm! Facebook Page