An interview with Shahid Nasim, F&B Manager, Peninsula Grand Mumbai.
Talking to Restaurant India, Shahid Nasim shares his view on the organic food, the growing trend of the restaurant towards organic food and also the impact on cost while going the organic way.
In your opinion, what innovation has recently influenced the restaurant business in a significant way?
Nowadays, all the restaurants offer ‘virtual menu’, an advance tech-menu which is available on the restaurant website and can be viewed tablets or, palmtops, smart phones where the customer can go in full details about each dish of menu card. For example, the recipe, method of preparation, calorie contents etc. The trend has influenced the restaurant business largely. Virtual menus with nutritional information have become an important aspect of a restaurant’s success. Allowing your customers access to each menu item’s calorie count, fat content and ingredients increase the level of trust and transparency between customer and provider. Customers want the things to be in control these days, and feel that they should be allowed enough information to make informed meal decisions.
Organic food is becoming more acceptable in mainstream culture. What do you think has influenced this shift?
People always wanted to have food produced by using organic farming methods with limited or no modern synthetic inputs. With organic food, you can be safe in the knowledge that hydrogenated fats and controversial additives like aspartame, tartrazine and Monosodium Glutamate or MSG are banned under organic standards. This the main reason why the guests are more influenced towards healthy organic food which is also environment friendly.
Tell us something about the growing trend of restaurants moving toward organic food?
Investing in organic food for a restaurant has a bigger impact on customer than simply giving you an edge in the market. With consumers embracing the organic movement, marketing your greener menu will be virtually effortless. Your patrons are already buying organic and looking for healthy, environmentally conscious alternatives to conventional fare. Simply letting your community know you’ve gone green will reward your restaurant with scores of new reservations.
With so many clear advantages, restaurants would be wise to consider transitioning to organic.
How much impact will adopting organic food have on the price point in your restaurant?
Organics can cost more; it's common for organic restaurants to charge more per plate than conventional restaurants. Organic food can cost 25-35 higher than a conventional food. For organic advocates, it's clearly reasonable to pay more for pesticide-free food that supports local farmers and local economy.
According to you how important is formal training in restaurant business?
The incorporation of formal training procedures in hospitality firms is recognised as a vital element in achieving sustainable perceived service quality. No one can deny the importance of ongoing staff training. Whether it is for veteran staff or new hires, training is one of the most important practices in any restaurant.
It is the training that gives customer an unprecedented hospitality experience and come back again and again; formal training is a key to success.
According to you, how is Indian food different from an international one?
Both have a completely different palate. Indian food is known for its variant tastes with wide variety of spices, flavor and aroma while international food is completely into a different mode of cooking and taste.
Do you think that the visual appeal of a dish has an effect on the customer? -- Do you believe in the adage: first impression is the last impression?
To me the visual appeal is a key to any food. Lots of importance has been given on these aspects. Food presentation has a huge role in guest’s feedback.
I don’t believe much in adage, though it’s important to have a good initial impression.
Based on your experience, what would be your advice to a beginner in the industry?
Never go for a short cut in whatever you do. Prepare yourself in overall experience and knowledge before you expect a promotion. Work with dedication and honesty, first few years will lead you to success.