Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 2nd 2015 Contents SUNDAY, AUGUST 2, 2015
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RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
"You went to Harvard (Business School)
to sell chow?"
That s the question Steve Seetahal s mother
asked him after he told her he would be
venturing into a small business with his
brother-in-law and a friend.
The three men are success-
ful in their professions but
for sometime had been
ideas. They found the market to be saturated
with people selling clothing and electronics
online via Facebook.
However, last September they found the
perfect retail idea---pineapple chow. But it
was not going to be any "ole, run-of-the-
mill" kind of chow. They wanted their prepa-
ration and surroundings to follow strict
health and hygienic guidelines to produce
a distinct flavour.
"We discussed it, worked out the logistic,
and opened on June 1," Seetahal said.
Together, they pooled their resources and
opened The Chow Master on Papourie
Road, Central Barrackpore. It s fully
equipped with a pineapple peeling
machine, slicing machine, blenders
for freshly-made seasonings, chillers,
labelled bags, a sealing machine and
of course, hundreds of pineapples.
Stringent daily routine
The five in-house workers adhere to
a daily routine of wearing their aprons,
gloves, hairnets, boots, and also steam-
ing the preparation area and
Each day they prepare and pack-
age close to 400 bags of chow in
about three hours, which go for
sale at strategic points in Marabella
Seasonings such as shadon beni,
hot peppers and garlic are blended
every day and incorporated into
the sliced fruit with salt and
black pepper to make the
tasty, mouth-watering del-
icacy which is sold for $10.
In just two months, The Chow Master
catered for a corporate event and had
requests to export the product, Seetahal
So why would this accomplished trio
decide to sell pineapple chow?
Simple---it s the most business-friendly
Not only does it have a juicy and irresistible
taste, pineapple has several health benefits.
It s also available year-round unlike other
local fruits, said Seetahal.
"If you look at the most popular chow,
it is pineapple. When I talk to the farmers,
it is something that I can get year-round
once the crop is controlled."
"Mango is seasonal and so are most other
fruits used for chow."
He said it was also easier to clean and cut
The chow remains edible for up to five
days, once chilled.
He said: "Pineapple was the most busi-
ness-friendly fruit for this venture."
The Sunday Guardian visited The Chow
Master on July 23 to find out how Seetahal,
a Fulbright Scholar and senior lecturer at
the University of T&T ended up "selling
chow," and similarly, Ramlagan, an IT man-
ager and Rampersad, an inventory manager,
both graduates of The University of London,
Only Seetahal was presen
He said pineapple chow w
snack with a low calorie conte
of eating a pack of yellow corn
children could eat a healthy, yellow snack---
In the next few months, the trio will look
to market the product in supermarkets and
schools. However, to extend the shelf life of
the chow, Seetahal said they would invest
in a vaccum sealer. Vaccum packaging
enhances the quality of a product and gives
it longer shelf life up to three to five times,
depending on the product.
A bunch of red tape
Even though it s a small business, it wasn t
an easy road setting up The Chow Master.
The idea was rejected twice by banking insti-
tutions. Seetahal s advice was to "know what
you re getting into."
From having all the necessary documents
to a comprehensive business plan and years
of theoretical knowledge, according to him,
"it is a bunch of red tape."
He said: "Banks are very risk averse."
Seetahal said in the initial stages banks
shunned the plan, despite his position on
the board of directors at the Central Bank
and being a lecturer in entrepreneurship.
He said some people may get burned on
their first try with the banks and may not
wish to execute their idea, but he said
perserverance was critical.
"A business takes time to grow. If you can t
support a business for six months on your
own you are in trouble
Workers at The Chow Master
during the preparation process.
Owners of The Chow Master from left Steve
Seetahal, Imran Rampersad and Nigel Ramlagan.
PHOTO (COURTESY THE CHOW MASTER)
PHOTO: RHONDA RAMBALLY
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