“Ingredients that are Fresh and Locally available are Favored”

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In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India Amanpreet Singh Matharu, Director of Food & Beverages at The Westin New Delhi talks about food trends.
  • Nusra Deputy Features Editor
Amanpreet Singh

Amanpreet Singh Matharu is recently appointed Director of Food & Beverages. He brings with him over a decade of expertise and operational skills in the hospitality industry with great understanding of dining trends and innovative concepts. He intends to raising the bar and elevating dining experiences in his new stint and give an impetus to the dynamic food & beverage operations of The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi which offers seven different dining venues to satisfy even the most discriminating of palates. The hotel’s on-site outlets offer everything from a casual breakfast buffet to multicusine and traditional Italian favorites at the all-day diner Seasonal tastes, to the flavors of Asia, at EEST- the Pan – Asian specialty restaurant to authentic Italian at Prego, cocktails and appetizers in Mix Bar and Lounge, poolside bites and drinks at Splash, Daily Treats for brewed coffees and freshly baked goodies to STORY Club and Lounge which is the most happening nightlife destination in Gurgaon.

Restaurants are infusing global flavors to India diners. How have you seen Indian diners eating habit changing in all these years?

Today, palates have changed, As the average Indian travels more, watches more TV, is exposed to more information and eats out more often, there is a definite shift towards innovation and authentication. Diners these days are looking for adventure on the menu, but the fact remains that they are also looking for authenticity on the menu, and will be willing to pay extra for dishes steeped in tradition. Heritage cuisines are the new buzzwords and gourmetfication of home-style food is being re-explored even while eating out.
 

What are some of the ingredients that has gained prominence in the restaurant kitchen in the last two years or so?

Locally sourced farm grown organic ingredients have slowly found a permanent place in kitchens. This makes a big difference to the flavour profile of a dish, as ingredients taste better and more natural when they are grown without preservatives.

What is your favorite ingredient when cooking/ designing a menu?

Regardless of the cuisine, the most irreplaceable factor of any menu remains the chef. It’s his/ her creativity, curation, preferences, personality, sentiments and skill that any menu should be able to pay homage to and represent effusively. Apart from this, I feel ingredients that are fresh and locally available are favored.

We see that people are looking after healthy food options and meals. How are you attracting guests at Westin?

In today’s age, eating healthy often becomes a challenge with frequent business meetings and socializing over the weekends. We are adding more health-forward menu items that feature visually exciting flavors and ingredients to boost their appeal among diners. Infact, Westin as a brand is committed to our guests’ well-being understands the importance of eating healthy food and focuses on signature wellness programs that empower you to eat, sleep, move, feel, work and play well, so you can be at your best while on the go.

Tell us something about millennials food patterns?

Over the past few years, India has witnessed an explosion of fine dining restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, clubs, lounges, and international fast food joints, which have to come up to cater to the millennials’ changing food habits. The millennials’ changing food patterns are tending towards conscious indulgence. They want to indulge in the practice of eating out and eating good, yet they want to be mindful of what they eat and will select their places after thorough consideration.

Young people prefer places with strong food ethics. They want to know how fresh or organic their food is, where their food is coming from, and if it is ethically sourced- the entire farm-to table concept has gained massive proportions.

What trend you see would rule Indian f&b space?

In today’s age, we are all are trying to get back to our roots. Local will be exotic as the prominence of regional and sub-regional cuisines is gradually increasing. Heirloom recipes and nostalgia will increasingly find place in professional kitchens. Cuisines of Bhojpur, Pondicherry, Mudalia, Mysore, Madurai, Uttarakhand etc. — regions that were not spoken of earlier— are gaining prominence.The future of flavor also lies in creating healthy dishes without giving up satisfying taste. Another trend that is catching up is offering flexibility of portion sizes; to encourage ordering of a new dish is to offer it in a shareable or appetizer-sized plate—this smaller portion encourages the customer to try something new at a lower price point. The heavy influence of social media trends on food cultureis also something which we will not be able to discount. And of course – the importance of the wow factor in the entire experience and presentation and not just taste. Though taste is a non-negotiable, the presentation and ambience are also very important as people are keen to explore the complete unique experience these days rather than just a meal. 

What role does food play when pairing with the favorite liquor?

Food plays a key role in the flavor of a drink, it can enhance or inhibit. Your beverage can pair nicely by contrasting with the flavor of your meal or by being a flavor twin and mirroring the flavor of your meal. Important physiognomies to consider are the impact, body and alcohol content of your beverage.

What will be your role as a F&B Director at Westin?

In my role as Director of Food & Beverage for The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi, I will be overseeing and providing strategic leadership to the operations of the hotel’s varied and vibrant food and beverage outlets as well as its niche and bespoke banquet events, with a focus on giving a fillip to delivering excellent guest experiences. 

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“Heritage Cuisine is the New Buzzword”
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