Tell us your journey in the world of food? How it all began?
It all began with being brought up in a joint family in Mumbai. Each family member had varied taste and my Grandma would cook up the most delicious of dishes for each one. Mumbai being a melting point of cultures, I grew up tasting various cuisines as a kid. This transformed into a passion with me clearing my Diploma in Hotel management from Institute of Hotel management, Catering technology and Applied Nutrition, Goa in the year 1997. From then on, it has been a culinary journey across the world with Peninsular and oriental cruises, Southampton, UK and with The Dorchester Hotel and Nobu Berkeley, London.
Which is your favourite ingredient to play with?
Although many, if you ask me a particular ingredient to play with, it would have to be Kashmiri Saffron. The versatility of using it in meat, veggies, bread and dessert, puts it ahead of the lot.
What is the latest trend hitting the food service sector?
There's definitely vegetarian and vegan as the biggest trend, with many reports now saying that eating meat is detrimental to you and the environment. That too Zero pesticide produce. First Agro is a company dedicated to growing Zero pesticide produce. This trend will increase as awareness about the source of food increases.
How changing market segments affect food and beverage industry?
People have realized that identifying specific needs and wants of your particular market segment makes your business more successful. Changing market trends in recent times have made sure businesses carve out a niche and then thrive on it. From the humble vada pav to sushi- sashimi, everything has been corporatized. That has given way to successful start-ups in the food and beverage industry by even unconventional players. I personally feel, the changing market trends, make for an even playing field for all players, keeps businesses on their toes through product innovation and accurate market research. It also keeps the Indian food and beverage industry abreast with the international scene.
What is your USP which makes you stand out in food industry?
While I have run corporate setups which include posh nightclubs to fine dine restaurants, casual dine, pubs and food courts, the early part of my career has been in the bakery, pastry and dessert section giving me an invaluable insight into that side of the kitchen in a way which very few chefs have ever experienced. I can handle both with aplomb and ease.
What do you think builds a brand in this industry?
While there is not one mantra for it, however keeping your employees happy will ensure that they keep your customers happy in the long run ensuring you build a brand with consistency and quality. On the business side of things, having the correct processes in place for your brand ensures strong brand building. After all, people can leave you, processes will not. While the trends and market segments keep changing for each one of us, the basics stay the same. Create, innovate and keep adapting to the changing times. Adapting is the name of the game.
How have you seen Indian food market growing over the past few years?
The Indian food market has grown over the past few years and will continue to do so at a rapid pace over the next few years due to the boom in consumer spending power, brand innovation and greater acceptance of international and local cuisines through internet and travel.
What are the things you look into when it comes to quality?
The quality procedures and standards established at the time of creating a brand are paramount to its success. Hence, as with ingredients, staff or processes, quality has to match with the mandated standards and rules set down by the company in order to ensure consistency. It is through quality that we see values like customer retention and brand image being kept constant.
Can we see you opening a restaurant of your own?
Yes, most definitely. With the spur in the food industry, it would be wise to invest in one of mine soon.