In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Chef Ajay Chopra, Celebrity Chef and Author talks about his journey in the world of food.
When did you decided to enter into the world of food?
I was inclined towards the kitchen from childhood but never knew I would become a chef. I was pushed towards hotel management by one of my brother’s friend. My love for cooking started when I was nine year old and my mom and I used to cook a lot together. I also used to go to small dhabas and while we ask them to make food for us, I used to come back home and replicate that with my cooking. I did not get a lucrative career at the start but then I have worked with hotel chains like Oberoi, JW Marriott, Mint Leaf Chain Restaurants in London, and Westin in Mumbai. The journey has been very fruitful and I have enjoyed every bit of it.
What was the most exciting part of your journey?
The most exciting part of my journey was how a small town boy moulded himself as a global chef. Food has got all the credit for it because of food I have travelled a lot, got so much exposure and all the learning are credited to it.
You have so much experience in the culinary world. How about starting your own venture?
I have been an entrepreneur from last one and half years. Apart from being a chef, I had a brand called Burgundy Box. Recently, I set up another restaurant in Muscat and I am also working on two restaurants in Mumbai which will be operational by the end of the year. I am chef consultant and partner in these restaurants.
What trends do you see in the industry today?
Food and beverage is seeing very definite change in terms of standalone dining options becoming much more superior and stronger than any five star hotels. Customers are looking at much more of variety and that’s why they are looking at stand alone restaurants. And, just like the west in few years hotel would become only for bed and breakfast and banqueting and F&B and eating out trend will be taken over by stand alone restaurants. India has become market; the amount of growth which India is seeing is not even seen by China. And, today people are much more spending on restaurants and food than anything else.
I think with more options on the platter restaurants are losing loyal customers. What is your view?
Loyalty also is based on less variety. But with so much options and variety people have moved out of this. And, also with variety there is coming lots of great quality. But lately people have also realised that with change in time restaurant are not reinventing themselves. But the bigger challenge is how will you have your loyal customers in this disloyal world and that’s where we as a chef have challenge. We have to continue to reinvent ourselves not only for a year, month but for every day.