In a candid chat with Franchise India, Chef Soumya Goswami talks about his stint at the Oberoi kitchen, his responsibilities and his take on gourmet dining.
I look after the Oberoi group’s New Delhi kitchen as well as 25 other properties. One should have the passion to do all activities. What I do on a daily basis is interact with chefs, look at menus, go to upcoming restaurants or existing restaurants to do upgrades.
On pitching in innovation
Most importantly to be ahead of the market, innovation is the key to our survival and without innovation restaurants die a natural death. A restaurant’s shelf life is about 2 years and people get bored very fast. To drive innovation, I bring in discipline within my chef team wherein one has to research two new dishes every week.
All our hotels do promotions – produce-based and region-based chef-centric promotions every quarter. This drives innovation again. We have to constantly tickle the customer senses to draw them back into the restaurant again. Today customers are not just happy with normal meal but expect something of a little surprise, a little more indulgence.
On the gastronomy in hotel and fine dining restaurant
Gourmet dining is on the rise. Standalone restaurants have jumped at the concept and they are giving hotel restaurants a run for their money. Earlier the hotels had great talent in terms of chefs but we lose them to standalone restaurants now. There’s a lot more money involved with standalone restaurant because people understand food more.
Gourmet dining starts definitely with good produce and good ingredients. If you have high quality ingredients only then can you transform them into high quality food. Second is the ambience because you cannot expect gourmet dining kind of atmosphere at a very basic minimalistic restaurant. You need gimmickry in terms of ambience to give a luxury feel to the restaurant which I think is more of the standalone restaurants are doing better and better every day. There are some great interior designers specifically meant to do interiors of restaurants. And certainly what is most important is having a good talented chef at the helm – one who chooses his team well, keeps them motivated so that there is consistency. A good talent pool is what is needed to execute a good fine dining restaurant.
Oberoi group and its competitors strive very hard on innovations. Every hotel chain opens a new themed restaurant every 2 years. Earlier it used to take a decade or 5-6 years; now with the hotel boom coming up whoever has the money wants to build a nice hotel.