Running an Indian restaurant in global land is not everyone’s cup of tea. From reinventing menus, working on ingredients that are locally available to creating an experience and food that resonate with the mother land is challenging. But we have seen some great chefs who are doing a fabulous job with Indian cuisine in global land. Though, the pandemic has brought a huge shift and challenge to all sort of the restaurant business whether it was running a restaurant in India or any other part of the world. There’s no denying that the experience of running a restaurant anywhere is one of wonders. Customers are universally quite similar no matter where you go and what situation you are in- all they want is a lifetime kind of experience and a delicious meal to be cherished.
Innovation is the new ball game
If you love, dream and eat food, you surely have been following all the top Indian chefs across social platforms. In the last one year we have seen chefs like Atul Kochhar, Vineet Bhatia, Ranveer Brar, Rishim Sachdev and Dayashankar Sharma to name a few innovating their food, menu to stay afloat during the pandemic. From working on menus and ingredients that are locally available to entering into a model that they have never tried or ventured before.
“Whenever there is scarcity, there is innovation. Before this lockdown we had never done takeaway. It was in May, we decided that out of 5 restaurants that I own 3 of them will start doing takeaway. Also, getting ingredients was difficult, so we had to get out of our comfort zone and look for what was best available. For the first time, I was cooking dishes with ingredients I have never thought of,” shared Atul Kochhar, 2 time Michelin Starred chef and Restaurateur who for the first time tried rabbit, beef and pork in his menu because that could be easily sourced during the lockdown and was unable to get chicken, lamb or goat that we generally find at an Indian restaurant.
“Similarly, we had to rely more on beans, turnips, carrots because UK doesn’t grow good green vegetables like India. And, I started relying on these roots for my vegetarian menus and it sprung another way of innovation and we have started looking at different ways of improvising things,” added Kochhar whose restaurant Kanishka that was opened just before the lockdown won best restaurant award in London during the pandemic because for chefs like him creativity can’t be stopped and we should always work on local ingredients, intervening the culture that we want to represent in our food.
Adding to the same, Chef Dayashankar Sharma of Heritage Dulwich, London pointed, “Delivery was a huge part of the start for the restaurant as no people were allowed to eat inside. For us, this has been an innovative year; we have created unique dishes with outstanding flavours without losing the traditional Indian taste. As for what the innovations are like? You would have to try and find out for yourself.”
Fine dining is about experience
With pandemic we have seen many fine dine restaurants turning their kitchen into a cloud-kitchen but as we are ready to re-open in different parts of the world, it is a big question on how would chefs and restaurateur manage to create the same kind of experience they create when someone is dining at their restaurant.
Fine dining restaurants will remain fine dining. It also depends on the size of the restaurant, how big is the kitchen? If you want to run the fine dining restaurant and also operate the dark kitchen at the same time, experts believed that it is a challenge. “I opened Vaasu in the middle of the pandemic. It is a 42 seater restaurant and I can only make 4 people available in the kitchen. During the lockdown we were doing takeaway but now I am open. I am planning to take no takeaway orders anymore as delivery can’t be taken from the same kitchen,” added Kochhar who believed that by this way we will risk the product, not give value for money to the client sitting in the dining room who is expecting a quality food to come out.
Meanwhile, Chef Shankar who opened his restaurant after months of waiting, the on Rosendale Road in London said that, “A lot of people come in who are avid eaters of Indian cuisine who want to try the classic dishes from India, and there are also a lot of people who want to give a new cuisine a try. The great thing about food is that it unites all people. Doesn’t matter whether they are from a foreign land or anywhere on earth.”
Hence, we can say that it might look easy to set up a dark kitchen and operate a fine-dining restaurant at the same time but always remember that people are coming to a fine dine restaurant for food, ambience and overall experience and delivery might spoil all the experience.