Entrepreneur

At This Damansara Restaurant, You Can Send In Your Recipes And They’ll Put It On The Menu

Do you have a recipe idea that you think is too good not to share? Or maybe you’re just tired of restaurants not having exactly what you want.

Well, now you can do something about it with the team at Chiqui Don, a kitchen and bar in Damansara Heights that lets you submit your ideas and recipes to its special crowdsourced menu.

We talked to Pradeep, co-founder and director of Chiqui Don, who shared the idea and mechanics behind this dining concept in Malaysia.

A Team Of Restaurateurs

Chiqui Don was initially founded by Pradeep Kumar, Mandeep and Bernard, a team of people who are no strangers to the F&B business.

Pradeep has three restaurants under his belt, including Shobana’s Kerala Kitchen in Petaling Jaya, as well as Micke’s Place and Rockafella’s Kitchen & Bar in Penang.

Bernard, on the other hand, is an old hat in the hospitality scene with experience spanning from bars and restaurants to 5-star hotels in Singapore. Recently he was appointed the general manager of a premium retail and F&B company based in KL.

But it was a fourth co-founder named Kuhan who introduced them to the crowdsourcing concept for an F&B menu, which the team said has never been done before in Malaysia.

The interior of Chiqui Don / Image Credit: Chiqui Don

Kuhan is also the owner of Dugout, a sports bar situated in Oasis Village, Ara Damansara.

Together, they conceptualised Chiqui Don in April 2019, about the same time they were surveying Damansara Heights as a potential location.

A couple of months later, Chiqui Don had its grand opening on September 15, 2019.

Pradeep reveals that they spent around RM1.2 million to set up the restaurant with RM15,000 dedicated to the food tasting process alone.

Image Credit: Chiqui Don

“It was held over 2 days during lunch and dinner, each seating 50 to 80 people, with predetermined food selections for each table,” Pradeep shared.

“The food tasting session was held mainly to introduce our dishes to the public and for the staff to familiarise themselves with service.”

Dishes By The People, For The People

Chiqui Don’s concept was formed around the idea of involving the community in the creation of the restaurant’s dishes, by drawing inspiration from their personal ideas and experiments.

The team also claimed that this was because they could not find anyone else doing “really good tasting, home-cooked food”.

“So, a website was created and we started marketing the concept to the public via social media. To our surprise, about 45 recipes were submitted in the first 2 weeks,” Pradeep told us.

But the community involvement doesn’t stop at just submitting a menu item idea.

“We would call them (the person who submitted the idea) up to our restaurant, they would work together with our chefs to fine-tune the dishes and once the dish is shortlisted, it will go into our menu,” Pradeep said.

If that particular dish hits a targeted sales figure, the owner of the recipe would be given discounts or vouchers.

To keep up with all the recipes being submitted, Pradeep shared that they plan to dedicate a section of its menu to these crowdsourced dishes in the future. This section will then change every 2 to 3 months.

Image Credit: Chiqui Don

Currently, the crowdsourced dishes feature the name of the person who submitted it next to the menu listing. For example, ‘Aglio Olio inspired by Su’.

However, only 40% of the menu is crowdsourced.

“We do offer our own original dishes. We offer a local and global flavour concept,” Pradeep added.

Image Credit: Chiqui Don

Indeed, Chiqui Don’s menu consists of cuisine from all over the world such as:

  • Italian Pizzas
  • Indian Satti Sooru
  • Singaporean Chili Crab Drip
  • Arabic Houmous
  • Mexican Habanero Wings
  • American Wagyu Beef Burger

And yes, they do have vegetarian dishes available too.

What’s Next On The Menu?

While it has only been a month since its opening, Pradeep seems confident that the concept is good enough for the restaurant to thrive and grow.

We asked where he sees Chiqui Don in the next year.

“The concept is being received well by customers, so we would look into expanding or opening in malls if possible,” Pradeep said.

But as always, like in any business, Chiqui Don will have to deal with its fair share of challenges, such as keeping up with the ever-changing trends of the F&B world, along with the inherent competition.

The team plans to overcome this by keeping themselves up to date on the F&B scene around KL, and make no compromises on the quality of food, service and taste, Pradeep concluded.

  • You can read more of what we wrote on F&B here.

 

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