In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Sandeep Pande, Executive Chef, Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa talks about the food trends in India.
Tell us about your journey in the world of food? How it all began?
After my 12th I wanted to be in a professional course immediately and it certainly wasn’t my granny’s cooking or my mother’s cooking, like so many chefs say, which prompted me to take up this profession. It was because of chefs like Thimmaye in IHM and seniors like Alfred Patrick, Chalapathy Rao and others that prompted me to become a chef and yes Chola Sheraton had a huge impact on me as a trainee and laid the foundations that stay with me till date.
What is the latest trend hitting the food service sector?
Micro restaurants, 20 cover, 16 cover, 2 chefs driven restaurants. There are many of them in Japan, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, south of France and our very own Hauz Khas. These are small restaurants were the chefs dictate the menu choices in conjugation with guests and the manning is done by the chef and a partner.
How changing market segments affect food and beverage industry?
Advent of social dining, trendy multi-functional places, bars with character, multi entertainment menus are some of the market segments that are changing the food and beverage industry and way the business is done. These are also challenging the conventional restaurant spaces.
What is your USP which makes you stand out in food industry?
My personal USP is customization, I cook for guests. My group USP is #GoLocal for the locals by the locals of the locals. Local chefs, local ingredients, local experience is what I believe in.
What do you think builds a brand in this industry?
Locals and trends that stay and evolve build a brand in the industry.
How have you seen Indian food market growing over the past few years?
Lots of new trends, chefs taking centre stage, bloggers, influencers, critics, food awards and TV shows have become main stream in Indian food and beverages scenario.
What are the things you look into when it comes to quality?
I look for ingredients that talk, which has a story. It could be simple tea leaves of a single estate in Matara that produces one of the finest white teas in the world.
What are the challenges do you think a layman has to face before setting up a restaurant?
Licensing and real estate costs in a good location are the toughest thing to manage when opening a restaurant.
What are some unique strategies that you follow while playing with your flavours?
Layer them up, build them up slowly, and stick to basics are some of the key I look into while playing with flavours.