Friday, 13 April 2018

Copper Bowl-Into the rich food culture of Dravidian Land

Copper Bowl in Esslingen in Baden Württemberg offers you a ride to the rich food culture of deep south India. Dravidians' staple being rice, most of the dishes prepared involve rice, followed by millet, wheat and barley. Being a Dravidian and a vegetarian, I have an affinity to vegetarian south Indian food. It was one of my friend who suggested me to drop in here once to relish the authentic south Indian pure vegetarian cuisine. I love to try and so did I find an opportunity to go. Best thing I found here is the juncture of the delicate south Indian flavors to tantalize the German palate. Another notion that touched me is

the entrepreneurship of a lady and her desire to not only make a living for herself instead provide employment opportunity for others. I must say I had here South Indian Thali, Dosas and they give the feeling of home cooked food. I decided to carry out a simple face to face talk with Rashmi Kumaresan and it went as follows:

What ignited that spark in you to start this as a new business?
As I was 16, I had interest in business. Coming from a family which was into business it was in my genes. Food was never in mind then, later this turned out to be being myself a foodie.
Something related to nature was in my mind, so food was the best choice where one can give back also to the nature. Spending time with people is what I also love. a business with food was hence my choice.

How did you find people to work with you for this restaurant?
Through friends, the word goes. People who love to work in a vegetarian restaurant and want a job, come here.

Any concept behind Copper Bowl?
I am a great fan of our Indian culture, where people never had to think about waste management. People had learnt to live along with nature and in Copper Bowl we wanted to imbibe the same thought.  No use of Plastic and trying to be environment friendly. I get fresh vegetables direct from farmers who grow vegetables and fruits without making use of pesticides. I do not prefer mass production, it is very likely that the quality goes down in that case. Also, more use of wood wherever possible for decoration and use of metals like copper with high recycle value. This restaurant was named Copper Bowl with no specific orientation to any particular place or religion at the same time a neutral name relating to India. Common thing across India is serving in a copper bowl and hence the name.

What motivates you and how long you work in a day?
The compliments, praises from people who experience the food here keep me going, at the end of day, you go to bed , with a satisfaction that you did some value addition in the society with your time. I work 12 hours a day approximately , but it is not only the 12 hours of the day but mind ….

How do you generate new ideas?
I fetch ideas from nature. A lot is there to learn from our surroundings is what I feel. I think about the combinations, Germans love vegetables, Indians have a different approach when it comes to food, specific dishes need to have specific vegetables be it only potatoes at times in certain dishes. So bridging the culture and taste of India and Germany is my challenge. Along with that I need to keep up the quality.

Do you read any books?
O yes, Biography is what I love to read. The essence of reading the life of someone, the tough situations they went through and apply it for myself in my path of life.

Your greatest fear and how you overcome?
I do breakdown every now and then but then I think it to be part and parcel of life. I deal with it reading the books. I think about my grandmother who is no more and she was known in her locality for being very enterprising. My mother is my living example. They both are my inspiration. I do talk to my family, my partner(who is more like my family) and  my friends, who help me to overcome my tough moments. And also I do see lot of living example entrepreneur in my circle and get inspired by them apart from my granny and mom. My strength has always been family and friends. It’s a blessing, all I can say to be surrounded by good people.

Is your business profitable?
It takes a lot of passion to do it, get the bridge is what I think about. It takes a long time for a business to grow. I would compare it to the growth of a Chinese bamboo tree. Initially the growth is slow, calls for nurturing with no visible signs of activity testing our patience but then but then in the fifth year  it grows about 80 meters tall all of a sudden indicating the strong foundation that leads to the sudden growth after 5th year.

How did you come to the choice of your current location?
I searched a lot for 8 months. Finally got this location where we are based today.

What is your success formula?
Anything made with quality will always speak for itself, to reach there you have to try a lot of things, it never happens the first time.

Most satisfying moments if any till date with respect to your restaurant?
There are many such instances and to name a few, once 2 years back an Italian girl hugged and cried telling "This was the best dosa I ever had". To hear this from a non-Indian was amazing. Some people started business after seeing me run this restaurant. A non-Indian couple with a baby visit me here every Sunday and the baby calls me mama which gives me immense pleasure for the baby finds home here. Many Indian parents who come here to visit their kids living here, arrive here and bless me for the food I put up. I was helped by an owner of a firm with regards to Visa to bring a cook from India. Students who come to study at Esslingen come and help me at times which is a big support. That is again a blessed moment for me. All these moments are evergreen and worth cherishing.

Any sacrifices you had to do, to reach where you are today?
To achieve something one has to lose something. I have got so many things as a part of this in my life, I have surely got a much better person to what I was. And hence I would not consider them as sacrifice. I have a very supporting Husband who never influenced any of my thought process, he was very open for all my ideas and supported me throughout. He believed in me and  stood with me through out In my ups and downs.  Though it was very challenging, he never gave up.  This in itself is a lot of  moral support. Apart from this he takes up a lot of family responsibilities too. Not to forget my partner – Keerthi Mahalingam, he believed in me and took the business to a different level. He filled in all the aspects where ever I missed which otherwise would not have been possible to where I am today.

Any difference you find between an entrepreneur and one who works for someone?
I believe it is a personal choice. I believe in the olden days concept where group of people work for each other there by bringing harmony. Corporate life these days have changed our thinking. I believe Globalization in a limit is good.

How you go about with the marketing?
Not much really. It is the valuable words of people (review) that pass on the information about this restaurant and I believe in Quality as my marketing tool. How the food is cooked is explained to customers and they spread the word.

Any failures you want to mention?
Always had ups and downs. I always learn from them.

Any other hobbies?
I love to spend time with family and friends and conduct get togethers. I do love to explore new places.

What makes you happy?
I keep myself busy. At the end of the day, I feel happy if the time I spent was productive and was of some use.

What characterizes your life as successful entrepreneur?
The more you learn you realize the less you know, so LEARNING -  continuous process.

How well you go on with the co-workers?
I ensure that we as a family spend a lot of time with our co-workers, it is not that the co-workers only related to work but we  also try to engage outside work. At times we do exchange few gift and this is a like small thanking gesture for the hard work they put 😊

Did you begin here right away or any prior occupancy in culinary world?
I hired a vegan restaurant and explored for about two years to see if it is really my cup of tea. I worked part time for around 2 years there. That gave an idea as what the Gastronomy field is like. To be frank lots of drops makes an ocean is what I believe in. When I started with this idea, there were 2 friends who shared similar interest. They left half the way as they were working full time and then it was fully carried forward by me before starting with another partner again.

Prior to this what were you up to?
I was working for Infosys and Mindtree in India and in Germany I did my Internship at Daimler, worked for a while in Joricson and finally here.

What you feel about the surroundings and the local administration here?
The Mayor(Burgermeister) of Esslingen keeps enquiring as how the business is moving and the local newspapers have written articles about the restaurant. Good support keeps me running.

Any non profitable deeds you performed for the society?
I keep conducting Ayurvedic Workshops here often called the "Ayurvedischer Abend". The money collected goes as a donation to help with the education and life of few not so lucky kids.
On the day of my marriage I and my husband planned to give something to the society, we kept a counter for eye donation, out of the invited guests around 60 people agreed for donation and registered. This is what I believe as giving something to the society.
Also a German lady helps many ladies in Bombay to come out of prostitution by offering them employment in a clothing business. At times people who perform the photo shoot of her clothing business are sponsored food by me at Copper Bowl.

I would recommend this restaurant for everyone! :) 

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