You are scrolling your feed one fine day, and the beautiful visual of steaming hot Gulab Jamans makes you pause for a second. It looks like they just got off the stove and are ready for your taste buds. Surely makes your heart say “Array Wah!”
If you have a flair for cooking all things desi, you must have come across Food Fusion. The online cooking channel is vastly popular among people of all ages from Pakistan and around the globe. We recently visited their meet and greet at Packages Mall’s ‘Taste of Lahore’ festival. Packages Mall is inviting influencers from around the country to attend the festival and enjoy Lahore’s food scene.
We got a chance to have an exclusive interview with the power couple Asad and Saima, who run the show behind Food Fusion. All your FAQs about how to become a social media influencer and turn it into a career are going to be answered by the best in business. Asad walked us through the initial months and how they got the idea of ‘Food Fusion’.
Tell us a little bit about how you started
Interestingly, Food Fusion started with a problem in 2009. After our marriage, we wanted to try new recipes to cook. The same old Chicken Karahi was not cutting it anymore. We wanted new recipe ideas, but there wasn’t much information available on the internet.
You had to brave through one hour of a show to learn how to make ‘pakoray’, and nobody has that much time. Furthermore, we were slowly realizing that Pakistani cooking channels need a modern approach. Channels like Tastemade, BuzzFeed Food were so inspiring. However, international creators were not using usual desi or halal ingredients, leading to confusion for a common Pakistani viewer.
That was the idea: to have a Pakistani cooking channel with easy to create recipes and ingredients. We were already baking and selling cakes in our free time, so the idea lingered on.
You left your job to start an online channel. How and what was the process behind this huge shift?
Firstly, no one supported me in our decision to leave my job. I was getting promoted to a lucrative position in a top digital agency of Pakistan. ‘How will you run the kitchen?” was the question. My answer to this question was: main khaana pakaonga (I will cook!).
Secondly, we wanted to turn our work into a full-time job and lead by example on how to become a Pakistani content creator. So, we planned to sustain ourselves for 6 months with savings and sold everything else to start this channel. Saima let us create a studio in the drawing-room of our house, and the first recipe we created was ‘chilli bites’.
It took a year to finalize the recipe for those chilli bites, and 8-9 hours of shooting to make a cooking video. However, we were still not satisfied.
When did you finally launch?
When YouTube was back on in 2015, we decided that it was time. We launched our channel on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube on May 9th, 2016. We had 50K fans on Facebook within 7 days, and 2 Million views! On the 9th day, we received a sponsorship request.
Surf Excel collaborated with us on their ‘no stains’ campaign. Our first campaign is very close to our hearts, and we haven’t looked back ever since. The following Ramadan, we did many collabs with Sufi. Knorr, etc.
Food Fusion surpassed all other competition to become people’s favorite cooking channel. But we again invested all these earnings into building an office and a modern studio for top shots.
What are your ground rules for making awesome videos?
We have one only rule- it should be tasty.
If our recipes are not tasty, we don’t use them. We also end up creating new fusion recipes during brainstorming, like we did with our Shahi Tukra Rollups.
How did you onboard a team that has the same passion as you for cooking?
This is the best part. Our passion introduced us to people who loved the work we were doing and wanted to help take it to the next level. Thankfully, we are also the first creator channel to employ women in a safe working atmosphere and create new recipes. Each person in our team is extremely dedicated, skilled and a part of our family.
We recently made a trip to Northern Areas of Pakistan, fully funded by Food Fusion. People told us that we look like a big happy family, which we are.
Did you learn any new skills in order to perfect your content, like video editing, etc?
We’ve never shared this fact publicly that we only used YouTube to learn and improve new skills. The fact that I know how to shoot videos, do the camera work, writing, editing, is because of YT. Furthermore, I shoot 90% of our videos and haven’t received any professional training.
Did you face any trolling on your posts?
like any post on the internet, our videos also receive some troublesome comments. However, we walk past the trolling because we have a bigger community that loves us. Did we tell you about our fans across the border? Our Indian followers are most dear to us, and they love our recipes because we share the culture. When you have such lovely people supporting you, you should not focus on the negative.
What’s next for Food Fusion? A restaurant? A Cookbook?
We are very excited to tell you that we are ‘cooking’ something that will change the way Pakistan cooks. That’s all we can tell you right now.
Would you like to give a message to other aspiring content creators of Pakistan?
My only message to you all is that the sky is the limit. If you sign up for a social media course today, the learning will be obsolete by the time you’re done. Something new is happening every day, so just keep learning. YouTube is your best resource, your ultimate instructor.
We would like to thank Asad and Saima for the interview. Also looking forward to have a detailed Q&A based on our audience’s questions. We hope you guys liked the interview and gained some inspiration to go out there and make history!