“Serendipity is looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer’s daughter.” Sir Hans Kornberg, popularized by late Roger Needham who set up Microsoft’s first overseas research center in Cambridge, UK.
My own search for a way to make my favorite fruit, Jackfruit, available throughout the year and well-liked by Chefs, started from a dinner which Chef Hemant Oberoi, corporate chef of Taj Group of Hotels, prepared for Michelle and Barack Obama, during their stay at Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai in 2010 to pay respect to those died during 26/11 attack at the Hotel. I read about this dinner and reached out to Chef Oberoi to see if he could replicate the dinner for my clients and we had a fantastic dining experience at the Chef’s Studio. It was so good that I went on to replicate this dinner several times across India. Each dish served was a signature dish, but the one we couldn’t resist requesting a second round was the Varqui Crab.
Two of our guests first chose Varqui Kumbh, which uses mushroom instead of crab meat but after seeing our excitement they also switched to Varqui Crab for the second round. That’s when I got curious why Chef didn’t use raw jackfruit bulb instead of mushroom as jackfruit is always known as the vegetable meat for centuries, but there was no Varqui Jack in the offer. Later I learned Chefs generally do not use Jackfruit in fine dining for three reasons- the fruit is available only a few months in the year, it is quite messy to handle in the kitchen and the aroma of the fruit version is so strong that it can spread quickly in the kitchen. I still couldn’t let go as the health benefits of Jackfruit are too good to ignore and the wisdom passed down through generations through my maternal uncle who is 80 and blind now goes like this “A JackFruit tree in the yard extends the human life by ten years, during the short season it works like a bottle brush for your intestinal walls.”
When I started experimenting with freeze dried jackfruit, the once supply chain expert of i2 and Warwick University within me quickly recognized, cost of freeze drying offsets the cost of transportation, storage and inventory costs by a big margin. Freeze drying reduces the weight by 82%, you can store the pack in room temperature for 365 days and chefs can configure-to-order any dish at the time of consumption with just 10-15 minutes to rehydrate the fruit. My trials with leading chefs in India and abroad I had worked closely during my professional career was a smooth sail, they embraced it with open arms and surprised me with the range of dishes they prepared. That was my first serendipity moment with Jackfruit!
This led to the launch of Jackfruit365™ on October 2nd 2013 with a vision to create an organized market for the mostly wasted jackfruits in India. The Strategy at Jackfruit365™, is to gradually change perception from ‘Ayye’ Jackfruit (ashamed to eat) to ‘AHA’ Jackfruit – Aspirational, Healthy and Affordable.
To make jackfruit Aspirational, first year the focus was on placing Jackfruit365™ on the menu of five star hotels in India. With excellent support from Chefs, many Five Star restaurants became Jackfruit365™ consumers winning great news coverage from media
Second year the focus turned on to uncovering the scientific reasons to prove that, Jackfruit is Healthy for various lifestyle diseases. It was now when an accidental discovery revealed the benefits of raw jackfruit as good for diabetes bringing forth many cases, where diabetic patients could completely stop or bring their insulin intake levels down by consuming raw jackfruit as a meal. Various research and studies revealed the benefits of raw jackfruit for diabetic / pre-diabetic patients. There were clinical reports available citing the benefits of raw jackfruit for diabetic / pre-diabetic patients.
With the help of doctors, diabetologists, nutritionist and research scientists at a globally reputed university we at Jackfruit365™ were able to conduct further research and make break through conclusion that Raw Jackfruit is a Healthy alternate to Rice and Wheat to control diabetes and to reduce weight.
Interestingly, Jackfruit is the only fruit that can be consumed as a meal replacing your regular carbohydrate such as wheat and rice in full or part. According to a study done by National Health Service, UK, low consumption of vegetables and fruits shortens life more than lack of exercise. So essentially, by taking jackfruit as a meal, the consumption of fruits/ vegetables per week, goes up significantly. The low calorie and high fiber content of the jackfruit satisfies your hunger and generally keeps you full for a longer period of time, reason why jackfruit is also believed to help in weight loss. When you feel full, you eat less.
My second serendipity moment was when I realised that the properties of freeze dried Jackfruit is such, that it could be powdered and easily combined with traditional meals, making it more fibrous and healthier, without changing the taste of the dish.
Jackfruit365™ is now at the final leg of the AHA Jackfruit strategy to make the aspirational and healthy jackfruit more Affordable for the masses. The engineering team at Jackfruit365™ is developing custom designed automation and processing technologies to make sourcing and processing of naturally grown wild jackfruits in India more affordable.
James Joseph is the founder of Jackfruit365™- an initiative to create an organized market for Indian jackfruits, 80 percent of which is reported to be wasted every year.
James has over 20 years of Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing experience in India, North America, and Europe with Globally reputed organizations like Microsoft, 3M and Ford. In his last role as the Director, Executive Engagement at Microsoft India; he was responsible for strengthening Microsoft’s relationship with the senior executives of top 200 enterprises in India. Prior to this role James was responsible for the manufacturing industry marketing for Microsoft UK. Before joining Microsoft UK, he held manufacturing, supply chain, business development, sales and marketing positions at Minda, 3M, Ford Motor Company, i2 Technologies and Informatica. James is a recipient of several awards including Circle of Excellence, the highest award for Sales and Marketing employees across the world at Microsoft, Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year at TiEcon Kerala 2013, New Age ICON d’ YOUTH Kerala 2011, etc.
During his work across three continents James had the rare opportunity to design Signature dining experiences for his clients with several internationally renowned Chefs which helped him to develop Jackfruit365™
James is also an author and his first book “God’s Own Office- How One Man Worked for a Global Giant from a Village in Kerala” was published by Penguin Books and released by Shri Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala in October 2014. Malayalam translation of the best seller got published by Manorama Books and released by Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder of Infosys, in October 2015. In addition James serves as a guest lecturer at IIM Kozhikode, writes columns for leading newspapers and regularly speaks at events to promote entrepreneurship among youth in India.
He has a Masters in Engineering Business Management from University of Warwick, UK and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram.