Restaurateur and Chef Pankaj Bhadouria Tells Why a Good Menu Is Crucial for Business

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In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef and Restaurateur Pankaj Bhadouria says, 'new techniques in food always add freshness."
  • SARA KHAN Feature Editor
Restaurant India

The big move in Pankaj Bhadouria’s life came with a small step when she decided to leave her successful teaching career spanning over 16 years and enter the first televised cookery reality show – MasterChef India. Pankaj Bhadouria, currently, hosts the second season of ‘3 Course with Pankaj’ on LF Channel. Besides, she has authored and co-authored many cookbooks.

In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef and Restaurateur Pankaj Bhadouria says, 'new techniques in food always add freshness."

‘There is a greater acceptance of restaurants with bars in Tier II cities’

An interesting trend I have noticed in recent times is a clear need for investment in technology. Today’s consumers expect online ordering, mobile apps and convenient takeout and delivery options. Hence, restaurants need to keep pace.

Secondly, each of us has a clear, defined audience we cater to. Consumers, especially millennial and younger, with a decent pocket, are not fans of the chains; they’re looking for distinctive experiences, even if they are available in tiny, stand-alone outlets. In the coming years, we can expect continued growth among fast-casual restaurants, with a greater emphasis placed on real ingredients and clean labels. Our consumers are definitely more aware and awakened!

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I have also noted a greater acceptance of restaurants with bars in Tier II cities as well. Drinking in restaurants is becoming far more acceptable and adult beverage programs have become increasingly refined and high quality. 

About Café by Default and its Expansion Plans

Café by Default is a Restro-Bar where we’ve aspired to bring the World Cuisine in one place. But while designing the menu, I had to keep in mind my city and its palate as well. The menu turns out to be global yet has a very comfortable feel; it appeals to all age groups. From Wood Fired Pizza to Durban Bunny Chow, the Balinese Soto Ayam Soup to the Italian Minestrone Soup, Vietnamese GoiCuon to PeriPeriTikkas, my Biji’s recipe of Dal Makhani, Risotto to Parcel Biryani, Fish & Chips to Prawns 65: our food is happy, fun yet slightly quirky!

The beverages, too, stand to outsmart on the menu. The thick shakes, Brain Freezers, Mocktails, Cocktails̶a, We have a lot of inspiring drinks on offer.

To me, how the food appears on your table is very important and I have had a lot of platters and servers customised for my need.

As far as the expansion plans are concerned, we are looking forward to taking Café by Default to cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi.

Tramp Tree Café is the mid-segment outlet that we plan to introduce to Tier II cities. The menu here is slightly more familiar and yet equally well presented.

The Contribution of a Good Menu in Restaurant Business

A restaurant is as good as its menu!

Isn’t food the reason why people go to a restaurant in the first place? The dining experience and sometimes the necessity to eat out also count but at the end of the day, it is the food that matters most. A good clean menu is what people look for. A speciality restaurant needs to live up to what it claims to offer; a fast casual shouldn’t have too many options to confuse, a well laid out buffet limits the responsibility of choice and a taster’s menu offers the element of surprise and discovery and completely eliminates the responsibility of choice.

New techniques in food, be it in preparation, presentation or packaging, always add freshness in the approach to food in restaurants.

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The Element of Uniqueness in Food Menu

Consumers seek value for money, be it in the quantity, quality or uniqueness of the experience. Any menu designed should take these factors into account. Creativity on plate attracts but it is the taste that defines. What makes a menu unique is innovation yet acceptability to the palate of its consumers.

Impressing the Diners when it Comes to Food

All you need to do to impress your diner is - be honest with your food. Freshness and integrity in food are very important because it reflects the flavours and taste of food. Present it well, make it a treat for the eyes just as it is for the taste buds and you have a winner there!

Must Read: Make Your Diners Order More With These Best Menu Design Hacks

Take on Changing Consumer Tastes and Preferences

If there is one thing that is constant in this world, it changes! The industry has experienced a great change in how people look at and approach food. The food industry is always trying to keep pace with it. I would also like to say the food is and shall always remain a source of comfort and joy. There are things which have never changed and will not change ever for we are connected to them deeply.

Our consumers’ palate is not shrinking but increasing. It is happy to have what it did and happier to all that we can offer them something new.

Secret Recipe to Success

There is only one recipe to success and that is a well-blended combination of honesty, integrity, hard work and foresight!

Five Tips and Tricks on Spice Mixes

- Freshness first! A freshly blended mix of spices tastes best.

- Never store spices near heat or light, you kill them!

- Refrigerate them in airtight, sealed containers to retain flavours for longer.

- Quality speaks for itself. The best ingredients make the best food and spices are the soul of good food. So always use the best quality spices.

- Identify your brand of spices and stick to it! A change in the brand can cause a major change in the flavour of your food.

Take on Modern Indian Food

Modern Indian food plays with traditional Indian flavours in a new avatar! Sometimes it is the presentation of food that takes a new look, sometimes it is the cooking technique that sees a change. But the flavours essentially remain the same. Many brilliant chefs are working hard to change the perception of Indian food. The modern Indian food is presenting our food in a new light before the world, one that is more acceptable to the world palate.

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