The Executive Chef of Indore Marriott Hotel, Vivek Kalia, puts his heart and soul into the kitchen focusing on quality, attention to detail and consistency. His knowledge of food, its preparations, flavour and presentation make him a coveted name in the hospitality world. His firm belief on the quality ingredients, the right skill set and consistency throughout his career has given him an accolade of an excellent facility benefactor.
With a career span of about 18 years in the hospitality industry, Chef Vivek Kalia has risen through various ranks in an extent of time. With a forte in Italian Cuisine, the executive chef also specializes in French, European and Spanish and Indian cuisine. His strong suit of comfort food brings the exclusivity to his art of cooking. Prior to joining Marriott Indore, Vivek worked with Preopening CY Agra and Goa Marriott Resort and Spa, Hotel Renaissance, Mumbai and Hotel Radisson MBD, Noida, The Udaivilas Udaipur and Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur. He closely worked with renowned chefs from France, Europe, America and Australia that took him to the roots of international food. His major learning comes from his time and exposure with Marriott. Vivek has travelled across the country to cognize the varied palates in India.
In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Indore Marriott Hotel's Executive Chef Vivek Kalia speaks about his idea of menu designing and the best ways to advertise a restaurant.
Staying Focused Right From the Beginning
I was born in a middle-class family where family values were the key and the most important thing and valuing food during every celebration were taught to us from childhood. I was a tough child to feed and I remember my mother and grandma preparing innovative dishes to get me to eat and also get interested in food. Nutrition came to me by having wraps, of parathas and sandwiches.
Those early morning preparations by my mother for every festivity interested me from the very beginning. I always wanted to do something creative from the start of my childhood, but being a chef was always considered a taboo in the suburbs of India in the late nineties'. I definitely thank my parents for inspiring me to pursue my passion of becoming a chef.
Right from the start of my career, my parents guided me to follow my passion. I remember my father was suffering from peripheral damage of his backbone and was bedridden for almost a year, but he always motivated me to stay sharp and focused on my career.
Creating Food Stories on Plate
Facilitated by some of the best chefs of India and other parts of the world, I have gained and picked the best of the traits required for being an expert chef and developed my own style of comfort cooking.
My philosophy of food is that by using the right ingredients and having the right fundamentals of cooking techniques, one can create a beautiful food story that is depicted appropriately in a plate.
Remember, Your Dish is Key Highlight on the Menu!
A personalized tailor-made dish with a well-balanced approach to a customer's desire, an intense eye for detail and of course it is the 'dish' and not the price that is the highlight. These are what I believe is the key to good menu design. I also am of the opinion that menu designing and restaurant food displays are the best advertisers for restaurants. Local, fresh and seasonal descriptors are something that I keep in mind during the initial framework for a menu.
The Secret to Delivering a Great Service at the Restaurants
Great presentation and prompt service make a memorable experience for the customers.
The secret to the delivery of great service is to anticipate the guests’ needs and demands, setting the expectations right, prompt delivery of the innovative and creative special dish and staying in close touch with the customer makes up for great service delivery.
Maintaining Customers' Loyalty by Organising Authentic Food Festivals at Restaurants
I believe that food festivals play a crucial role in maintaining the popularity and customer loyalty of a restaurant. Authentic food festivals should be organized when the chef is able to bring innovation to the table and also change the flavour of the dish according to the guests' request. This will eventually help with incremental sales and serve as a boon for assistant chefs to learn new aspects of cooking. In other words, it's a win-win for both - increasing footfalls at the restaurant and training and motivating staff.
Five Restaurant Customer Engagement Mistakes
- Not understanding the customer needs and demand.
- The inconsistency of both - food on the plate and prompt service.
- Not giving the guest a reason to return.
- Poor marketing.
- No personal connection.
An Advice to a Chef who is Just Starting Out
Remember you are not going to be a celebrity TV chef in two years. Find the right culinary school and gain the best practical experience with professional chefs, the rest is your passion and patience which will be the driving force for your career. The opportunities in India and abroad are immense so be assured there is a job out there for you.
Fine-dining Trends in India in 2019
The fine-dining trends in 2019 start with the chef's determination that is his creativity and strength keeping best of the ingredients in mind, lacto-vegetarian focused, organic and farm fresh products will be on a high-rise in the Indian Fine-Dining Sector in 2019. The focus will be on reducing food wastage and introduce more locally inspired cuisines that will create an emphasis on direct farm sourcing to maintain the fresh tag and give the maximum to the source who is the farmer.
Food Trends in India
And of course, there are new food trends such as:
Organic food: This is the trend and a key to leading a healthy life.
Farm fresh: where the supply is direct to the users and does not sit in cold storages. The next level to it would be setting up a table in a farm where fresh ingredients are plucked from the garden and cooked live in front of the guests.
Health-oriented: The calories are kept in check and exciting dishes are made for the guests keeping his diet in mind. These diet plan sync into a fitness program being designed in collaboration with the fitness trainer present at the Indore Marriott Hotel.
Less are more: Generally, a plate has fewer carbs and is more inclined to the presentation.