In a candid chat with Restaurant India, Chef Alok Anand, Executive Chef, Taj Coromandel, shares how menu designing is helpful in running a successful restaurant business.
What all things come along in designing your restaurant menu?
While designing my menus, I always consider the colour, texture and a perfect marriage of flavours of the ingredients. I always draw the composition of the plate in my mind, visualise the appearance, colours and flavour before putting a dish on the menu. And I try out each and every dish before it features on my menu.
What menu tweaks are you planning to introduce to stand out from the crowd?
I always like to keep the food recipes and flavours as original as possible. I do not believe in fusion food as it usually leads to confusion. I wish to introduce samplers in smaller portions so that guests can get to try out a variety of dishes.
What is the supply chain management process in your hotel?
Good supply chain management is very crucial for our industry, especially for perishable ingredients. Hence, we ensure that all precautionary measures are always taken to avoid any deviations in temperatures while transporting perishable food ingredients. We constantly conduct sessions for our associates as well as vendors to educate them and create awareness.
Comment something on the involvement of senses in the restaurant?
Food always involves all the senses (see, smell, touch/feel, taste, and hear – especially while eating crunchy dishes).
What are the different types of cuisines served at your restaurant?
At Taj Coromandel, we serve food from the four South Indian states at ‘Southern Spice’, Chinese cuisine at ‘Golden Dragon’, Italian food at ‘Prego’, Indian and International food at our All Day Diner ‘Anise’.
What is the contribution of good menu in restaurant business?
People usually remember and visit a restaurant for its food. Hence, a good menu and excellent quality food is the major contributor in restaurant business. Quality of service also plays an important role followed with ambience and location.
It is said that 'sales in Indian restaurants are dropping.' What are the reasons for this?
I personally feel that the statement is very relative because earlier there was less competition and secondly, customers also were not so demanding. So, a few restaurants could charge as per their wishes. Earlier, visiting a restaurant in India was considered to be a luxury. Nowadays, there are quite a few restaurants in each locality. People are well travelled now and they understand the food in a better way as compared to old days. Hence, some older establishments are finding it difficult to inflate the prices and charge a premium. Actually the volumes and the number of people visiting restaurants have increased manifold.
What inspired you to become a chef? Tell something about your journey in the world of food.
Cooking food is a science as well as an art. There is no dull day in my life since I became a Chef. Food gives me so many opportunities to use my imagination and be as creative as possible. There are unlimited ways of using any food ingredient. Being a Chef also helps me look at life from various angles.
How familiar are you with the legalities involved in opening a restaurant? Are you planning to open up your own restaurant?
I am currently not too familiar with all the legalities involved in opening a free standing restaurant, but I do plan to open a unique restaurant of mine and will definitely catch up on all the legalities required for that soon.