In an interview with Restaurant India Chef Suresh Babu, Executive Chef, Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa, Bengaluru talks about food presentation.
Tell us about your journey in the world of food?
I started my culinary journey 20 years ago with Taj Vivanta in Bengaluru. After my stint at Taj, I worked with cruise lines for 10 years. I came back to Bengaluru and joined The Pride Hotel as a Kitchen Executive. In 2011, I got the opportunity to work with Clarks Exotica and to join the newly launched resort. I was excited and keen on being a part of this new venture as I believed it would offer me the best challenges and opportunities in my career. Thus, began my journey with Clarks Exotica family and since then there has been no looking back.
What is your key responsibility looking at the culinary operations at Clark Exotica as you have a global experience in the culinary arts?
My responsibilities include constantly updating and experimenting with varied cuisines and food trends, planning different menus, training the kitchen staff, motivating the team, coordinating with the purchase department and ensuring on quality &portion control, interacting with guests for their feedback on food quality and service.
What uniqueness and innovation would you like to introduce when planning the menu as you have been known as a lover of innovation?
While planning a menu, first it comes down to customer’s satisfaction and taste. I plan the menu on various cuisines based on that requirement. Currently, I am experimenting with fusion continental meals and vegan cuisines – right from starters, the main course to dessert.
You are an expert in continental food. How much do you think Indians love these types of food?
In my opinion, it always depends on the customer. At Clarks Exotica, I’ve seen that only about 20-25% choose continental since most Indians prefer spices in their meal. The presentation makes a huge impact in getting customers to choose the continental cuisine, compared to any other cuisine.
Great food tastes good when it is presented well. What’s the key to a good presentation?
When it comes to presentation, it is a personal choice how it is to be presented. For me, the key to a good presentation is using fresh, colourful ingredients and herbs, along with the right pairing of foods - no pesticides and artificial colours. Organic and fresh food not only tastes better but also looks good.
What according to you are the key essentials for a perfect menu?
A balanced menu consists of an equal portion of starch, protein and fibers – a full course menu along with the right pairing of food.
Who are you trying as your target customer?
We have a varied set of customers. There are a lot of corporate events and weddings, both small and grand ones. These require elaborate planning. We also have a lot of ‘day guests’ – families, corporate team outings, alongside the regular weekenders and other guests. Clarks Exotica is also becoming a key MICE destination.
We have seen that these days customers’ have become much choosier when dining out. How are you matching up those standards?
I like to experiment with various global cuisines and try to serve something new on the plate of the guests. We are always planning and developing the menu based on customers preference and requirements, keeping with the food trends and seasonal requirements.
What do you think where is India heading in term of food trends?
More people are growing conscious about their health. The Vegan trend is really catching on in India. We also notice that customers are growing more open to international cuisines, and more experimenting in terms of choices.
How difficult/easy it is for you to cater to Indian taste buds?
I don’t think is it difficult to cater to Indian taste buds. We have so many more options to experiment with, due to the vast range of spices involved in Indian cooking. It is great to play around with pairing and taste with Indian cuisine.