An indigenous food blogger, who values an average Indian home setting above all glamorous social media is pouring. He restores indigeneity in his food blog. Aiming for the Civil services he seeks to own a restaurant someday.
Welcome to our edition of Interview with a food blogger. Interview times talked to Prateek Srivastava about his journey as a leading Faridabad’s food blogger sofaridabad and we got some insight into his life and journey.
“My only motive is to remain connected with my audience at the ground level”, he says.
Can you brief us about yourself, and how did this idea come about?
I am basically from Dehradun, but currently, I have been settled in Faridabad only. When I was pursuing BCom, cooking was only my leisure pursuit; One day, my friends persuaded me to open a social media blogging account 3-4 years ago. During that time, only professional bloggers were ruling the media. So, it struck me that to have a page where easygoing home-made cooking recipes should be presented to connect with the ordinary people who are willing to experiment with new recipes effortlessly.
However, I would like to add that It wasn’t sofaridabad from the beginning. My first page was Cook with Prateek, which is now my second page. After some time, when people started recognizing me, I changed the name to sofaridabad. Four years ago, I put a recipe for butter chicken on my page, which fortunately went viral, and I gained about 30k followers in a week. It got a whopping 800k views and a million impressions. That was a significant breakthrough for my page. From 5k followers, I went to 31k. I got my motivation & started enjoying it when I received my due recognition.
I often hear exciting stories like a newly married bride thanked me because her in-laws loved my recipes. So gradually, I started getting people’s love and appreciation. Moreover, I was a novice then, but with consistency, I have been moving towards my more significant aim, and no doubt, boys can cook as well.
- Do you invest full time in Sofaridabad? Do you have other plans as well?
I completed my MBA last year, and I am aiming for civil services. I cleared the Preliminary and Mains but messed up my Interview round this year. Besides, I have set sights on opening a restaurant soon.
- How much time do you usually spend on one recipe or one post?
It varies from recipe to recipe, from one hour to 4 hours. Unlike other food bloggers, I describe the complete details of my recipes. I keep on writing them during my cooking time. It saves me time and also makes my recipes more authentic to my audiences.
- Are you working alone, or you get help?
As I am the founder, I run this solely. Though sometimes friends come over and they do help me.
- What is the story behind your blog’s name, sofaridabad? What essence does Faridabad have on your recipes?
I have lived most of my life in Faridabad. When I started this page, there weren’t many bloggers, and every big city had a page with their names like Delhi, Noida, Chennai, or Kolkata. So, I named it after my city. Bloggers have Sodelhi, Sokolkata, but Faridabad was unknown, so I thought to keep this name to get my town due recognition.
- Do you take brand endorsement?
My page is mostly about my inventive recipes. I don’t usually and easily do promotions for brands if I don’t like their product as I have set some standards for my followers. If someone approaches me for endorsing their product, I taste it and promote it if only I find it up to the mark; otherwise, I send for suggestions too. I do not compromise with the quality of my blog.
- What is your signature dish, or something you love cooking the most, something your followers like the most?
Butter Chicken and Maggi. Honestly, when I made dhaniya Maggi, it stood my viewers in stupefaction. However, I receive a bundle of thanks for my butter chicken recipe.
Every food blogger tries to look modern with fancy recipes, fancy pieces of equipment, an immense variety of ingredients, but my recipes cater to average Indian hearty eaters.
My only motive is to remain connected with my audience at the ground level. And this should never be the case that you can only be a blogger if you have the required fancy equipment; all you need is to connect with the right audiences. There are pages with extreme fancy names and types of materials, but I would say, staying connected with your followers is what matters the most.
- How do you feel if your recipes do not get the response you expect?
Yes, I feel disappointed, but on second thoughts, I ponder over, ask people for feedback. I ask them through Instagram’s story. People do respond—for example, Kashmiri Aloo Dum, I used to make it the way my mother has taught me. Later, a follower from Kashmir connected with me and suggested to me the right ingredients that made my recipe authentic, that’s how I learn from my viewers.
- Who is your inspiration for cooking?
Both my mother and father. Though I keep on experimenting and learn online too, I credit my Mother for all I have learned. She is always there to assist me when I need her help.
- Suppose we talk about a person leaving his education and job and join blogging full time. Would you suggest that? Does blogging have a future?
Yes. It has a future. But to be honest, the process is prolonged. Perseverance is the key. It demands time and dedication. Yes, it’s risky, but all jobs are precarious. For blogging, you need to be persistent in posting daily; you need to be engaged regularly with your audiences.
I believe that education is an indispensable part. Social media is uncertain; you should always have a second option. Orkut, TikTok is the present example.
- Did you ever imagine to have massive followers and full recognition from people?
Primarily No. Not at all. I never imagined people would know me like this. Like I told you after my Butter Chicken recipe went viral, I started getting plenty of DMs, and there was a time when I was unable to revert. It took me 100 recipes to set in motion. Within a week from 5k, I went to 35k. As I firmly believe, perseverance is the key. It would be best if you kept working hard, give your time, and be patient. Moreover, it is not only about recipes but also about catering to your audience’s needs and interacting with them.
I reply to all comments, all messages, I even respond to a negative response with a smile.
- Are your followers from Delhi only?
No, from all over the world. My top followers are ranging from Dubai, Mumbai, and Delhi. Delhi has much competition; lockdown added more to it, and to be honest, it motivates me more.