The festive season that begins with Onam, peaks at Diwali and culminates with Christmas and New Year celebrations is a period of hectic activities for restaurateurs as they aspire to create the most interesting fare to draw the maximum number of footfalls. Chefs dish out specially designed menus to suit various palates of discerning consumers looking for new, exotic dishes, mixed flavours, fusion drinks and innovative desserts.
Kritika Pandey speaks with several chefs on what sets their creative juices flowing during the festive season, and what trends they see emerging…
RISHI VERMA: EXECUTIVE CHEF, SATTVIKO
It is extremely important for a chef to be creative with his menu and presentation. It is a necessity of the trade to come up with something new every time as the customer globally is well-travelled and is always looking for variety and diversity in food. People are tired of ordering the same dal makhanis and rotis at restaurants. Now, they have become experimental and so have the chefs.
There is lot of inclination towards healthy food such as salads, poha and the burrito made of corn, so this trend will continue in the years to come. People are cautious of what they eat when eating out and conscious of their calorie intake. So our menu boasts of healthy dishes and there will be additions of more healthy items in the years to come.
There is a certain expectation on has with the last year’s trend. This festive season will be new for us, but we will be able to manage the larger number of footfalls since we always maintain a good inventory. In fact, we have to serve our five stores present in the Delhi-NCR.
SANDEEP PANWAR: EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE METROPOLITAN HOTEL & SPA
Since food plays an integral part in celebrations, we make sure that we offer something new and innovative to our visitors. Our focus is to present something that is delectable and different every time.
With so many food joints, restaurants and international brands coming in, the level of competition has increased by manifold. In terms of technology, concepts and food innovation, it becomes imperative to think ahead. The import regulations has affected everybody in some way or the other. The long stretch of non-availability of food products is eating into profits and guests will gradually shift their loyalty elsewhere. Substitutes are short term measures and so cannot be permanent.
Keeping the food trend in mind, lean is in. People are getting more conscious about what to eat and what not to eat. Low on carb, low on fat, high on fibre and vitamins is what a customer would normally ask us. Olive oil based dressings are replacing mayonnaise based dips and dressings. We have noticed a demand for more of white meat as compared to red meat as it is readily digestible and nutritious.
ANUJ KAPOOR: EXECUTIVE CHEF, ANYA HOTEL
Cooking is one of the most creative pursuits, and one which people get to consume immediately. It’s not just done for the gallery. One has to keep on looking for newer ways to come up with great dishes that have acceptance. For Christmas and New Year eve we will be doing special menus and activities across our various outlets for different age groups. There will be special menus and buffet events.
Import restrictions have done some good to the local market. The silver lining in the situation is that as a response to this challenge, chefs are demanding better quality produce available locally. This, in turn, has pushed the supply chain to come up with better produce. As a result you now see better quality vegetables being grown locally and with utmost care.
Several farming stretches have come up around Chandigarh, Manesar, and the entire Nashik Pune Bangalore Madikeri belt. Same is the case with stricter norms being followed for poultry and meat rearing. Delicious and healthy food helps people to connect. In the years to come, an inclination towards lighter sauces and dressings will be noticed. Rediscovery of classics, more and more street food in fine settings, and an overall robust, honest flavours with a clear departure from overly decorated plates, will be the trend.
BISWAJIT ROY: EXECUTIVE CHEF, MOSAIC HOTELS
It’s important for the chef to be very creative, to think out of the box, and be willing to try something new. Creativity inspires food presentation, which is very important to the overall dining experience. A chef should be able to use ingredients in interesting and innovative ways, and should be open to new ideas and suggestions.
Chefs are the ones who typically call the creative shots in the kitchen: ordering ingredients, creating recipes, setting the menu, and deciding on the best way to present the food. They work in a
very competitive business, and to stay ahead in the field, creativity is required.
For Christmas, we will host an occasion with special Christmas cakes along with an assortment of chocolate hampers. The focus this Christmas is on unique and special cakes. So the idea is to serve something that looks different but at the same time retains some of the best features of a traditional Christmas cake. We will also prepare new dishes, exotic special signature dishes and some interesting desserts. On New Year’s Eve we are planning a gala dinner with cuisines ranging from Continental and Oriental to Indian.
Globalization has led to the discovery of new culinary routes, spices, flavours and the merging of different cuisines. The new trend that is coming in a big way is the combination of Indian flavors with International ones. Indian Fusion Food is the latest trend, that is, traditional Indian cuisine with a modern twist. Food with its global approach today, is changing and assimilating a variety of delicious
People have become very health conscious, so the hotelier as well as the restaurateur are taking special care to provide the freshest of
ingredients, and they are offering organic foods, be it organic egg, fruits or herbs,. to attract customers. I believe that cuisines across the globe have been evolving to suit different tastes and preferences. Consumers have become extremely choosy about eating the right kind of food and they often look out for healthy food items.
In such a scenario, we should focus on serving food with the right balance of health and taste. Also, people are preferring chef crafted dishes that have the appropriate nutrition with the use of farm fresh products and ingredients.
Food is a motivating factor that provides a link and induces a sense of belonging in an otherwise alien world. It is an important part of cultural exchange and bonding, and an important part of Indian culture.
Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique tastes and aromas. However, the cuisine across India has also evolved as a result of the subcontinent’s large-scale cultural interactions with Mongols and the British making it a unique blend of various cuisines. Indians, frequently travelling around the world, are exposed to different cultures and cuisines, so they demand authenticity and accuracy in the new cuisines being offered in India.