An Interview with Chef Gautam Chaudhary, Pink Poppadom, Hyatt, Bangalore.
In a candid chat with Franchise India, Chef Gautam Chaudhary, Executive Chef, Pink Poppadom, Hyatt, Bangalaore, tells us why his restaurant stands out among other brands in serving the evolved Indian food.
Journey of becoming a Chef
I wanted to be an engineer but couldn’t get through. I was selected in many of the institutes; IIT was my dream. I thought to try for it next year but to save time; I joined Hotel Management as a career option. When I joined this industry, I loved the industry, the concept and the idea of experimenting various innovative stuffs that I ended up being a chef. My journey so far has really been marvellous – from Radisson Blu to travelling to US and finally returning to India.
Concept that went behind Pink Poppadom
Indian restaurants across the country are not doing very well. The fine-dining restaurants are generally dinner only; they are not open for lunch. People go for Chinese, Oriental, Multi-cuisine so the footfall in Fine dines Indian restaurant keeps falling. So the concept was to create more awareness among diners and of lightening the cuisine as people want tasty food without too much fat.
Bangalore has a very Cosmopolitan crowd and it is very upmarket place. It’s very easy to market a concept like this where people are well travelled and they are aware what is happening around the world. So, it was much easier for us to market, inform the guests and inform the clients.
We have three restaurants in total – one of them is the Pink Poppadom which serves progressive Indian food. The second is Lido which is an all-day dining serving European, Indian and oriental. The third is basically a bar and a lounge. The concept of Bar and Lounge is Singapore style food say small bite foods. I think, presently in India, only five restaurants, including Pink Poppadom is serving this food. We use high quality ingredients and since it is Hyatt we do not compromise on quality.
Involvement of senses at Pink Poppadom
Food is an art and to praise any art you need to have your five senses open – starting from the skin (to touch and feel) to eyes (see how food is presented) to tongue (taste) and finally to the nose (for relishing the delicious smell coming from the food). Today people eat food with a spoon, a knife and fork, but the truth is that one should feel the food.
Importance of a good menu
Menu is very important for a restaurant. It’s very important to have a menu that connects with your guest and such a menu is based on the market segmentation that you have done. Menu is also based on the clientele that you are getting or expecting at your restaurant. So, I think menu is a very important aspect because it drives your revenue.
For designing a menu for your restaurant, you need to understand the concept very well, i.e. the knowledge of the concept, the market segmentation (i.e. understand what the market wants), find out whether your plan is the requirement of market, analyse the competition (what your competitors are doing), unearth the information on which all restaurants are running this concept, how are they doing and their pitfalls, etc.
Pink Poppadom takes Indian food to the next level. This restaurant serves very progressive food in a very elite manner. In this restaurant we are trying to lower the calorie making it healthier because Indian food is considered to be very heavy. It has higher amounts of fat, cream, butter and cashew nuts which have been used traditionally in Indian food. So, we are trying to deviate by taking the cuisine to the next level.
Experience at Tanzore restaurant, Beverly Hills, USA
It has very different working culture. In India, manpower is very economical. So we utilise manpower to the best. While in European countries manpower is very expensive so most of the things we get is accessed from the market which comes to the hotel and restaurants in pre-processed format.
The best thing which I like about foreign countries is that the sales are very much incentivised. You have certain amount of salaries but the incentives generated from the revenue come along to you. See if you sell something for 1000 rupees you will get a certain percentage as incentive for the revenue you have generated for the restaurant. It’s a really good thing. That way each and every member is highly motivated. Even in the back kitchen, where one does not generate revenue, a certain amount of incentives are given for maintaining product quality for the restaurant.
Awards and Accolades
There are a number of awards bagged by Pink Poppadom. The best one came from BBC Good Food, which awarded us the best Indian cuisine restaurant in the country. There are number of awards that we got from media publications named Food Lovers in Bangalore. So, in terms of award and accolades, we have huge recognition.
Reason for low sales in Indian restaurants
The reason for low sales is that the Indian food is still not developed. If you talk about various other cuisines – French, Italian, Mexican, Oriental – they have evolved themselves, but Indian cuisine has not evolved itself. Indian cuisine needs to go under reformation and be presented like any other cuisine; they need to be a little lighter. India cuisine is still traditional with lots of oil and heavy gravy including nuts and pista korma, kaju-korma. The Awadhi-Korma also tends to be very heavy. People in older days used to easily digest that food because they tend to do lots of labour intensive work but today the situation has changed. So, I think there is a need for reformation in Indian foods to make it lighter.
One should know the basic concept behind opening a restaurant, understand what is on the offer and what other people are doing.