As food lovers and cooks, we were excited to meet Gopi Kishore Byluppala, the CEO and Founder of a place called The Culinary Lounge in Hyderabad. As our car pulled up in front of its gates, we noticed a bouquet of freshly painted homes in soft pastel shades clinging to steep hills surrounding it. Tall palms and a riot of bougainvillea peaked over garden walls. With the toniness of the neighbourhood, we felt like we’d found the Hollywood Hills of Hyderabad. And, the flat-roofed two storey white washed building that houses this state of the art facility fit right in.
Gopi confirmed that many Telangana movie stars do live in the area. And, the Culinary Lounge is the residence of Indian badminton superstar Padmashri Pullela Gopichand. This spacious place hosts corporate cook-offs for up to 36. It offers culinary courses for amateur chefs. The chef team works with various food and beverage brands as a food innovation partner. And, their events team curates private culinary experiences.
Gopi led us on a tour. The cooking studio is pristine white and stainless steel. The dining room is a soothing mix of natural colours and woods. We lingered on the rooftop patio and imagined how pleasant it would be for guests to mix and mingle here. Of course, our favourite area was the state-of-the-art behind-the-scenes kitchen for the chefs.
The idea for this place evolved from a passion for food born during Gopi Kishore Byluppala’s early family life. He was raised in a compound family home. The kitchen was the beating heart, pulsing life through the home and everyone in it. Gopi fell in love with the hustle and bustle of his mother and aunties cooking for the family of 30. His dream was to go into hotel management. But, his Dad wanted him to be an engineer. Gopi followed his father’s wishes but never gave up his fascination with food and food culture. And that was a very good thing.
During his 10 years in the corporate sector, Gopi noticed a recurring theme in the workplace. Professionals came from all over India to work in Hyderabad’s burgeoning tech boom. They worked hard but when they weren’t working, they were lonely and isolated. This bothered Gopi because as he says, “I believe one should NEVER EAT ALONE.”
Seeing an opportunity, he formed a start-up called FEAZT in 2014. He found local authentic cooks and homemakers who were brilliant in their cooking skills. He inspected their home for cleanliness, assessed their degree of hospitality, and tasted their food for quality. Only if they were tops in every category, he certified them as hosts.
With hosts in place, Gopi marketed the chance to enjoy a Hyderabadi meal with convivial groups. His target audience were transient business people, travellers, and the culinary curious. Guests applied for the meals they were interested in on the FEAZT platform. Once approved, guests paid a fee and attended.
Having people meeting up, eating great food, and creating income for homemakers was a dream come true for Gopi. FEAZT has introduced 55 passionate home chefs to Hyderabad and given them recognition for their art. A few have even become food entrepreneurs.
Gopi Kishore Byluppala’s The Culinary Lounge
“I see cooking as an art and chefs are the artists,” he explains. “We’ve built The Culinary Lounge as an interactive culinary theatre for these artists.” Corporate clients from Google to Microsoft and many others have booked team-building events. Families host their most memorable occasions. Chef competitions for TV are filmed. And, embassies host events to share their own culture’s foods here.
Gopi’s fascination with the rich culinary history of Hyderabad, his network of chef leaders in the global community and his profound skills in hospitality have helped him realize the dreams of his youth in a way he could never have imagined. We are so thrilled to benefit from his truly generous nature. Because of Gopi Kishore Byluppala we are able to share with you a recipe for true Hyderabadi Biryani in our upcoming posts.
We look forward to returning to Hyderabad, booking out The Culinary Lounge, and learning a whole lot more about this city and the rich history of its cuisine. In Gopi Kishore Byluppala, we couldn’t have found a better ambassador.