Father Plov


By Nodira Sadikova

There are few places in the world where you cannot find the unique Uzbek dish ‘Plov’. In this article, I am not going to teach you how to cook this culinary masterpiece, but I would like to tell you about the pivotal role of a Uzbek businessman in promoting Uzbek Plov in Moscow.

Ilkhom Ismailov caught my attention with his positive and creative attitude towards his start up business. He has earned the nickname: ‘Father Plov,’ and there is a valid reason for this. He launched the online Uzbek delivery restaurant ‘plov.com’ and people can now enjoy real Uzbek Plov, cooked according to old recipes, with century-old traditions right here in Moscow. Nevertheless all the products except meat and water are carefully chosen and brought directly from Uzbekistan, which means that Ilkhom’s Plov comes complete with the flavour and the spirit of Uzbek cuisine. When Plov lovers order Plov online, they receive a piece of Uzbek warmness and hospitality, something that is naturally Uzbek.

Selection_197Ilkhom Ismailov worked at Troika Dialog for 4 years, and then for 5 years at Aton. In 2014, he launched the online delivery platform Plov.com. One of the essential parts of this successful story is the unique design and style of packaging with ‘plovinsims’ like ‘All you need is Plov’, I wanna be Plov by you’, ‘Plov must go on…’ Like many other successful people, Ilkhom gained experience in the finance world and transformed his hobby into a business. When you like what you do, you put all your effort and love into it. In this, Ilkhom is an example for all start-up entrepreneurs who would like to develop their business ideas or projects. It is important to note that he is not alone in the Plov business; he is actively developing it with his brothers Dilshod and Zafar Ismailov. So we can call this a family business.

The first beginnings of an online delivery Plov business appeared in 2008 when Ilkhom was working at Troika. He realized that his colleagues celebrated every corporate event with an office party. They always ordered sushi, pizza, Ossetian or Russian pies and noodles. But, there was no Plov on the order list. Ismailov decided to research this issue and find out about online Plov deliveries. It soon became apparent that there were no restaurants or cafés offering online Plov deliveries.

Ilkhom noticed the same habit to order sushi and pizza when he started to work at Aton. One day he recommended his colleagues to order homemade Plov prepared by his friends. The demand for Plov grew, and this led to an unexpected change in Ilkhom’s career – he decided to change his occupation, from investment banker to Plov-Maker businessman. He believes that if there is a demand for a product, there should be nice and attractive supply to meet that demand.

The online restaurant menu consists of three sections – three different types of Plov and appetizers in the form of vegetable salads and Uzbek bread (Lepyoshka). The menu has been created with an aim to make it easy to place an order (see table 2). ‘When you go to a Japanese restaurant, the main course is usually embellished with ‘Philadelphia’ or ‘California’, in an Italian restaurant with ‘Ceasar’, pasta and pizza ‘Three cheeses’. It is unbearable!” – Ilkhom said. Despite the fact that Uzbek cuisine is very rich and diversified, the Ismailov brothers have placed Plov as the main dish in their menu. In the future, they want to expand their menu list by offering Samsa (small Uzbek pies with various fillings) and pastries.

In today’s busy world, people have a tendency to prefer ordering food rather than simply going to restaurants. (See table 1). Ilkhom designed an online Plov delivery system based on his own taste and creativity. One of his principal strategies is to deliver everyone unique and age-long taste of national Plov in stylish and eye-catching manner.