We all know us Bongs love to eat – be it water, lyadh or food. Every other Bong you’ll meet is a self-proclaimed foodie and proudly so! We believe in bonding through food, making friends, initiating adda, establishing trust, proclaiming love, resolving issues. Food as art, food as religion – food is indeed second nature to us.
As a tribute to our unconditional love for food, we caught up with Shahbaaz Zaman, the founder of FoodZpah, a Facebook group for foodies that has taken the city by storm. Only a year old, the group has over 2 lakh members and is supposedly the biggest food influencers’ group in the country, with an aim to to be the dawn of a new era in the food scenes of Kolkata.
Beacon Kolkata: Tell us something about FoodZpah.
Shahbaaz Zaman: FoodZpah began as my own personal blog and Instagram back around 2015-16. I had a team of people and we would visit restaurants regularly. I wanted a platform where everyone could post and write about food and not just me. That is when me and my core team decided to open the Facebook group on January 2017 and it just went upwards since then.
BK: What was your main aim while creating the group, how did you envision it?
SZ: To be honest, none of us thought it would do so well. What has clicked is that FoodZpah is a very open group and young as well. So the members get along pretty well and I think that helps to keep the flow going.
BK: What is more important to you in the group – the food or the photograph?
SZ: We’re trying to protect the other members of the group from being bombarded with photos which are not very aesthetically pleasing, so we suggest against posting blurry pictures. If the photos aren’t good, you wouldn’t like it and at the same time, if the food is not good, you wouldn’t feel like clicking and posting it on the group on the first place.
BK: Has food been something you’ve always been passionate about, have you always wanted to work with food?
SZ: Since I am the admin of FoodZpah, people kind of assume that I must be someone who is extremely motivated about food, but that is actually someone I’m not. I just like the opportunity to meet and engage with new people and that drives me forward, while food is secondary. I’m here right now because its my job instead of it being something I am really passionate about.
We had no clue that that FoodZpah would be so loved b y people and we appreciate the love and dedicaton which the members are putting in. Food is something which is universal, its something which is loved by all. There is some amount of politics in the group, you’ll see posts with beef and pork drawing a lot of attention but food helps bind people together
BK: What was your first post in the group?
SZ: It must have been a non-food post, probably one where I am explaining the rules and regulations of the group. I do remember my first post on Instagram, it was a dessert, almost more than 2 years ago.
We have these segments of dessertzpah and spiritzpah, these are run for a monthly basis where the best photos of desserts and alcohol win a prize. Apart from that, we used to have a lot of food walks. There are a lot of restaurant tasting opportunities which the more active members get a chance to be a part of.
BK: What do you think about the food blogging scene in Kolkata?
SZ: It is picking up by the day, people are now more aware of it, there is immense scope because the restro industry as it is is picking up, so this is something that will continue to go upwards and has a lot of scope as well
If you are passionate about food, you like posting about food on social media, you can become a food influencer and not necessarily a blogger because blogging takes a lot of study and time and effort. Food blogging should not be used so loosely. I myself identify as a food influencer.
BK: Why did you choose the name FoodZpah?
SZ: I had asked people to suggest names for the community and I held a competition for the best name to win something from me. So I got a lot of suggestions, some I remember are Dawat-e-Shahbaaz, Life on a platter and all. Just before the contest was about to close, a guy called Arafat Mondol suggested the name FoodZpah, and it instantly caught my attention because it was very catchy and the movie Haidar was doing the rounds then. So I instantly knew that this was it.
Click here to join FoodZpah
Click here to read about the team behind Kolkata’s favourite meme group, Bong Bachal.