The inside ‘scoop’ with Rohan Mirchandani
Rohan Mirchandani is a Co-Founder and CEO at Drums Food International, makers of Epigamia Greek Yogurt, India’s first branded Greek yogurt, and Hokey Pokey ice cream. Epigamia was launched in 2015 and is currently available across major metros. Drums Food is one of the fastest growing FMCG companies in India.
Rohan moved to India from the United States, where he grew up, in 2013 to pursue Drums Food’s foray into the FMCG space. His passion for food is linked to his passion for travel and history. He considers himself an amateur gastronomist as he can never be satisfied with a meal without knowing its origins and the culture behind the cuisine.
He has traveled to over 40 countries and has a particular obsession with how certain cultures have influenced and contributed to some of the most interesting cuisines in the world. He says, “What I find fascinating is the Italian and Jewish influence on the food of New York City, Arabic influence on Spanish cuisine, and Portuguese influence on Indian Goan cuisine.” Rohan has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance & International Business from NYU’s Stern School of Business and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
What made you move to India from the US and start Hokey Pokey?
In December 2011, while I was studying at Wharton, I had a chance encounter with Shripad Nadkarni, former head of marketing for Coca Cola India and now my mentor/advisor/investor. The meeting made me realize the potential India has in the coming decade for consumer brands. This short period of ten years or so is a once in a lifetime opportunity when brands that will stand the test of time will be created.
Do you miss living in the US? What do you miss the most about it?
Yes, I do miss living in the US, but it’s the more simple things I miss like my friends and watching my favorite American sports. However, I have met some amazing people in India in the 3 years that I have been here and they have made me feel more than at home.
Which is your favorite Epigamia flavor?
Every flavour has a unique taste and making me choose one is so difficult but our Alphonso Mango is something that I just cannot do without! The wonderful all-natural taste of Ratnagiri mangos is something I can talk about all day.
Which has been your most memorable holiday experience?
My most memorable holiday was in the year 2011 when my wife and I went to a tiny town called Frascati in Italy, outside of Rome, for a friend’s wedding. Aside from the memorable wedding, this was one of the most special holidays as we decided to land in Frankfurt, Germany a week before and make our way down to Rome in a rented car with no hotel reservations and no plan of which city we would be in next. The only goal was to get to the wedding in time! I’ve never had so much fun since as we drove down through the German Black Forest region, through Baden Baden, Munich, Verona, Florence, and then eventually Frascati (near Rome). Each day was an adventure and we just let our imaginations carry us from one location to the next, deciding only towards the end of the day while we were driving as to which city (or country) we wanted to spend the night in.
Which is your most favorite regional Indian cuisine and why?
My most favorite regional Indian cuisine is Chettinad from Tamil Nadu. As a dominant non-vegetarian, I find the mix of spices, specifically tamarind and coconut, just a delight when cooked with roasted and marinated non-vegetarian meats and seafood. My favorite is Chettinad sea food with Appams. One of the reasons I fell in love with this cuisine so much is when I realized how diverse South Indian food is beyond the usual misnomers of only idli, dosas, and wadas! I discovered the variety in non-veg South Indian food is just amazing.
Tell us the five books that have inspired you.
Buyology- Martin Lindstrom
Freakonomics- Steven Levitt
Delivering Happiness- Tony Tsieh
Short & Tragic Life of Robert Peace- Jeff Hobbs
Band of Brothers- Stephen Ambrose
If you could pursue a hobby and get paid for it, what would it be and why?
If I could get paid for traveling the world, eating all types of cuisines, and learning new languages, I’d be up for it!
Do you cook at home? What do you like to make?
I love cooking at home and having studied in Italy for 6 months, I make a pretty mean gnocchi.
When you look back at last 4 years of Hokey Pokey, what comes to your mind?
This is an endless question and I could go on and on answering it! I think my favorite story was when I was on a flight from Delhi en route Mumbai in 2014 and sat next to this person who saw me in a Hokey Pokey shirt. She assumed I was a brand manager at Hokey Pokey and proceeded to engage me in an animated conversation for over 2 hours. She was a passionate fan of the brand and gave me all types of feedback- good, bad, and ugly. She really expressed her desire to see us make some changes as she considered herself a devout customer and proponent of Hokey Pokey.
My favorite part was the surprise on her face when I told her I was the founder and CEO! She totally lost it… (laughs)
Have you tried Holachef? How was your experience?
I have ordered RAW Pressery juices and Epigamia on Holachef! The experience has been wonderful so far with the delivery.
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