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In our endeavors to, on one side, keep the connection alive with our alumni students, and, on the other, to further sharpen the skills of our existing students, our faculty members conducted a single-credit course for our passing-out batch about” Crafting a Robust Career Progression”, and two very interesting certificate programmes for our current students concerning Food & Beverage start-ups and Gourmet Food Truck Business facility planning & pre requisites.

Participation to these programmes was out of choice and entailed 15 hours of study each, connected with research activities on entrepreneurship, start-ups and career advancement. These sessions were highly appreciated by students, who, by virtue of the availability of time at hand, could devote a tremendous amount of interest and concentration therein.

Being exciting and away from the run-of-the-mill, not only were these programmes enthusiastically patronized, the students, in recognition of their work, received E-Certificates. The originals have been kept ready for them to be collected once the college opens up.

“We see that despite the environmental restrictions we have been able to maintain the educational rigour and have successfully accomplished every single academic activity. This Certificate-Award service stands out as a unique activity and brings about a moment of pride for us” Says Dr. Garima Parkash, Dean, Vatel Hotel and Tourism Business School.

Chef Abhijit Saha, a self-inspired, self-ignited professional with a rare combination of dexterity and perfection with award winning restaurants and famous eateries, despite his being busy, managed to take time out to talk to our students even while he was busy at work, in the middle of opening new restaurants at the prestigious Bangalore International Airport Ltd.

A topper in his HM studies, Abhijit discovered the Chef in himself and wanted to further nurture this talent and to fuel his penchant of making a name in the field of gastronomy. “Success is all about playing with peoples’ minds”, says Saha, the founding member of Ace Hospitality and Consulting. “Once you understand the customer and you are able to deliver what he wants, he will be with you forever, and add more loyal customers”. “Food is all about variety” he adds.

Having as his idol Padmashree Awardee Chef Imtiaz Ali Qureshi, Abhijit perfected his art and had the honor of serving celebrities like President George Bush, Margaret Thatcher and Cindy Crawford. He said that the world of gastronomy extends so far and wide that no matter how many years may you spend in this trade you will still have new things to learn. The depth of this sea is unfathomable.

Expressing his optimism while talking about the current downtrend due to the pandemic, Saha says, let us be ready to learn as this situation will also teach us useful things – “Even during the days of curfew, people want to socialize; we must find alternate ways of satisfying that need”

Giving special advice to the students curious of opening their own restaurant, Abhijit says the first quality that they as young entrepreneurs must adopt is patience. Operating a restaurant and making it successful is an art, there is no fast-tracking as one has to balance many moving parts of a restaurant. “Having a sound financial cushioning, especially in the initial stages of operation is of utmost necessity because you won’t be able to, despite the fine manicuring of your menu and the dishes, come to terms with the customer behavior. It is for these reasons that a serious feasibility study and a profound research become absolutely necessary.” Abhijit’s saying is quite in line with Philip Kotler’s definition of marketing: Marketing is a business function that identifies the current unsatisfied needs and wants, defines and measures their magnitude and introduces products and services to satisfy these needs…

Should one wish to venture abroad for a restaurant, it is absolutely indispensable to closely study the local laws as, compared to India the labour laws of some countries might be different.

Entrepreneurs usually get sentimental and wish to put up their restaurant according to what they personally like, forgetting thereby that restaurants should be put up only to satisfy the needs of the customer. “Restaurant owners must regularly conduct quality audits by experts as they are the ones who will tell you the truth on your face and show you where you stand” “Two things which can kill the best of restaurants are the absence of a sense of discipline and the ignorance of waste management.”

Upon being asked the reason as to why he preferred Bangalore as a city for his restaurants, he said, “Bangalore is the best cosmopolitan food center and has a great community of chefs who meet regularly and exchange the innovative ideas. The avenues to improve are tremendous” says Saha.

Chef Abhijit Saha, the decorated chef has the following to his credit:

  • IFCA Exceptional Achievement Award, 2019;
  • Chef of the year’ 2018 by BBC Good Food India;
  • Chef of the year’ at the Times Food Awards, 2016
  • Best Chef of India’ at the Indian Restaurant Congress, 2013, Indian Federation of Culinary Association’s
  • Chef-Entrepreneur of year, 2009

Chef Saha’s Enterprises:

CAPERBERRY: (Modernist European), Fava (Mediterranean) in Bangalore.

SAHA: His Michelin recommended Signature Indian restaurant Singapore was awarded the Epicurean Star Award for Best New Restaurant, 2014 by the Restaurant Association of Singapore.

Nimish Bhatia a chef of renommée mondiale who believes that out-of-the-box thinking must also lead to out-of-the box actions, started the Webinar with the theme - All About Progressive Cuisine with a brief on the evolution of mankind right from the early stages wherein the only source of survival was food and water. Being a core necessity, the humans have, over the past several centuries, done their best to change what they eat and also the way in which they eat. This biological necessity slowly graduated itself into a fine, minute and indeed a microscopic, specialized gastronomical activity, which down in the pages of history, has evolved as an art.

“All dishes are foods but all foods are not dishes”, claims chef Bhatia, supporting the fact that a tremendous amount of upgradation is required before food graduates into a dish. “Over the years, People have become more discerning and judicious and, eating out, which used to be but a ceremonious activity earlier, has now become almost a regular habit. Every dish deserves to have a story behind it, clearly depicting how it evolved and the transformations it has gone through over years of working over it.”

 Conforming strictly to the doctrine that the human beings’ biological tolerance with regard to the intake of food has undergone a phenomenal change, we as professionals must take a step ahead, innovate and try to modify our dishes, even before the guest has expected it to be value-added. Presenting the same dish with a bit of physical and aromatic change, enhancing thereby its level of acceptability is what progressive cuisine is all about. It is like presenting on the table of the guest the same dish, with the same name, but in a new avatar. Incidentally, the term Progressive Cuisine is coined by nobody else other than Chef Nimish Bhatia himself.

 Should you, in your own ingenuity, wish to add pumpkin gravy to the existing dish of butter chicken, go ahead, provided you give it a totally name as ‘Butter Chicken’ has become a generic name and the guest, while ordering it, expects a certain pre-defined look and taste.

Chef Bhatia has had the fortune of working in hotels, restaurants, food courts, theme kitchens, airlines and hospitals

This is what has helped him gain a valuable, overall experience as he got to perform different functions. If you are destined to fly, you wouldn’t need any crutches, he said out of his sheer sagacity.

 Whereas a chartered accountant, a doctor and an engineer continue to remain what they are known as throughout their lives, a chef cannot remain a chef in the entire duration of his career. It is innovation, invention, creation, development and advancement that will help him continue to wear the tag of a CHEF, otherwise, it is quite possible that he might have to perform the role of a Chef de Partie or a Sous Chef.

 In the managers’ meeting one day the Chef said, “Let us introduce Thandé Kababs in our menus.” Just short of being laughed at, everybody expressed surprise and dismay since the universal acceptance of a kabab lied only in its being hot and juicy. It wasn’t only after a formal food-trial that Thandé Kabab became the chef’s signature dish, which is a reconstructed chilled melon samosa made fancier and cooler with hibiscus dust and served with a smear of Nimbu Pickle. The inspiration to create this came from the flavorful cold cuts, red meat, poultry and seafood available in Europe – which has now come to India in a different avatar.

 The world is changing rapidly – a good chef must therefore be enterprising enough to see with his own eyes and perceive what is happening all over the world – this will help him innovate and develop himself. “I have done a research on as many as 39 Indian cuisines” says the chef proudly. Gastronomy is the only world in which you can practice madness – and that is a shorter name of out-of-the-box thinking,” says the Chef with a smile.

 “Food is multi-dimensional. Not only should it look good, it should have a clear aroma, fine texture, super taste, should connect to the various senses and, ultimately, should give to the customer the real experience for which he came to your restaurant”  

 Talking about molecular gastronomy, Bhatia said that it wasn’t a cuisine but only a cooking style – which presents dishes in a different way, meaning thereby, that it cannot be a type of food that one can easily adopt in his daily lifestyle.

 In these days of pandemic wherein service establishments are struggling to be afloat, they have to think of ways and means to conduct business in the non-traditional ways. The economy has to co-survive and co-exist. Any step taken towards generating extra revenues would be welcomed as it will entail a lot of learning. The home-deliveries and take-away dishes are some measures that even the biggest players in hospitality have got down to, but they wouldn’t be able to do much without maintaining the highest level of hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness, which is the need of the hour.

 Chef Bhatia, upon being requested to comment on the inclination of chefs wanting to perform roles of food and beverage directors or even that of general managers observed that this trait amongst chefs, especially the younger, restless ones, is coming up as a trend, in which he saw no harm. Just like my cuisine, everything should be allowed to Progress

Hailing from a traditional, middle-class Bengali Family, Sujan Sarkar has deep history attached to his career. His desire to become a fashion designer was overtaken by his passion and he ended up as co-founder of the two most exciting modern Indian restaurant brands with five locations in the United States and one in New Delhi in India. “Though I had the toughest time of learning in India I admire the gastronomic potential it has, owing to its rich cooking heritage.”

His first restaurant in the USA called Rooh, opened in early 2017 at San Francisco soon won the 28th position as one of the most critically acclaimed Indian restaurants, not only in San Francisco but in the entire country. This was followed by Baar Baar an outlet with exciting brews and mixes.

While addressing students attending the webinar hosted by the Vatel School, he chose not to deliver a lecture or a sermon but wanted to make the session more interactive in nature. With questions from the participants flooding his screen, he answered all of them with full rigour, enthusiasm and tact.

“Irrespective of how good your food is, it will win the first appeal only by being plated artfully whereby it goes with the color of the dish being served. A chicken with white sauce cannot be served on a pure white plate.” said he. His penchant for presentations led him to visit specialty restaurants with a Hi-Def camera, just to be able to take pictures of signature dishes – He used to undertake this activity at night, after finishing his shifts at the JW Marriott. So much was he interested in high-end cuisine that he used to make the voluminous Larousse as his pillow.

“There are chefs who are good at producing their delicacies but are not able to do justice by being able to duly define or to describe it. In my mind, a good chef should be equally competent in theory as it will lead him to further refine his art”

“I do not fake a dish”, says he “I must put up on the picture nothing else but the truth.” In order to have the guest enjoy the dish in the most authentic way, he makes sure that there is a clear coordination between the way he serves and the way the guest must consume. “Some people say that by doing this I ‘Control the Diner’, but what I want to give is the authentic experience…”

Touching upon the role of technology in creating good cuisine, he says the engineers design and manufacture the equipment only upon the recommendation by the end-users, which, in this case, happens to be us Chefs. “I have been able to innovate, design and use equipment produced as per my specifications.”

In this new age, people are getting health conscious and are running away from blast-frozen or ready-to-eat ‘manufactured foods’, as there is no art involved in such foods. To the students curious about tips for opening a new venture, he simply suggested the Mantra – “Understand your clients, know your chefs and do only what you are the best at” – you will surely succeed.”

Talking about his own accomplishments, he said, “Before crossing the Atlantic, I was voted Times Chef of the Year in 2016 and International chef of the Year by Elite Magazine in India. In the year 2014 my first chance to experiment with Indian cuisine outside the country came as an opportunity to conceive, create and launch a unique concept that is now famously known as Trèsind in Dubai.”

Working as a Chef de Cuisine at the flagship restaurants of the renowned Olive Bar and Kitchen in Delhi and Bombay for over three years, he opened India’s first Artisanal cocktail bar called Ek Bar in 2015, which took the city by the storm and was voted as the best new Cocktail Bar in the world by Conde Naste Traveller and many more…

Corporate Chef Seinan Group (Tokyo) and consulting chef with Michelin plated Indus Bangkok, while addressing students of the Vatel Hotel and Tourism Business School, its faculty members and several other chefs participating from the different parts of the world on a virtual get-together, expressed that he prefers working on the rich, natural bounty that the Mother Earth has bestowed upon its people and considers sustainability to be the most important aspect, which has to be respected at any cost, in whatever we may do.

“Sustainability is nothing but learning to know how things are sourced, used, processed and, finally discarded. Bio-degradable foods must be encouraged as even upon their expiry they can be used in some other form or, due to their degradable quality, be completely eliminated.” Noma and Bombay Canteen in Maharashtra, he said were examples of being 100% Sustainable outlets.

Nishant rose to fame after being selected as one of the few to attend Master Chef Classes at the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore.

During his days in Bangkok his heart used to melt upon seeing farmers bringing their fresh produce and setting up shops as early as 3 a.m. just in order to make a living and to make both ends meet. This is when he decided to do something for them and engage himself in promoting farmers. “We must support our farmers and must find simple ways to to respect their role and to give them the importance they so rightly deserve.” He adds. 

Having travelled to the different parts of the world, he learnt to understand and admire the charisma of the local cuisines and learnt how valuable were they with regard to their connection with history. All this, if perfectly researched upon, can give us a lot of insight into the simple, yet extremely useful methods of cooking employed by our ancestors. 

“Being Chef of a large hotel, it was my duty to make sure my staff does not waste food. I devised a system by which my staff, while working at their ranges and cooking tables, before throwing the left-overs in the waste bins, put the same in a glass bowl visible to me so that, I, while on my rounds, could get to see what they were discarding. This gave to them also a useful lesson. In my opinion, whatever is recyclable, should always be re-cycled and not wasted as this will give to the Mother Earth a dual relief.” 

Talking about environment, he said in a country like India, one household disposes off daily, on average, garbage of almost 3 kilograms. “Imagine the millions of tons of garbage that is generated and is continuously posing a threat to the Earth, to the flora, fauna and to the mankind. We must, therefore open our eyes towards this stark reality and do something revolutionary about it, said he” 

‘One thing that we all can do is to eat mindfully and responsibly and show more preference for natural products.” said he while commenting upon one-third of the world having to sleep without food. We must donate whatever we can” 

While talking about his unusual, out-of-the-world signature dishes he gave a brief of a few, like Kacchi Haldi ka Halwa, Turmeric Ice Cream, Lock-Down Mango, Kathal Taco and desserts using mangoes, Jamuns and Mulberries and, not to forget, the Butter Chicken Pasta… 

Talking about health foods, he said the camel de-hydrated powder milk and goat cheese were very good for diabetic patients as the fat content is very less in them. 

I am not at all in favor of Fusion cooking. On one hand, not only does the original dish lose its identity, it is not able to, on the other, get perfectly matched with the other dish, of which it is meant to be a part.   

Some of the major milestones of his career have been:-

  • Selected for Southern US training by Southern Foods Program in 2010 by John Folse Culinary Institute, Thibodaux (Louisiana)
  • Won Iron chef challenge in Bangkok representing Indus Bangkok
  • Invited at Michigan and Indianapolis Universities (USA) to demonstrate the historic Indian cuisine.
  • Successfully accomplished pop up at Dusit Nairobi on progressive Indian cuisine.
  • Won 1st prize at the Bocus d’Or competition held at Ashoka Hotel – December 2009
  • Part of TV show with Zee Business called as The Great Chefs of India
  • Cooked for Gourmet Gurus of India which was sponsored by Food and Nightlife Magazine
  • Won gold medal at AAHAAR 2013 in the innovation category.
  • Cooked 8 course tasting menu for BBC Good Food 2014 at Grand Vasant Kunj.
  • Represented India at the Madrid Fusion 2015
  • Runner up – Chef of the Year 2015 by Outlook Traveler International
  • Writing a book on Indus Valley Civilization
  • Created a historic pop-up at Indus Bangkok on Progressive Indian Cuisine.
  • Created successful cook off at the vineyard of Argentina, South Africa, Japan and Canada.

Chef Subroto Goswami, one of the leading names in the world of Gastronomy, a pass-out from the Oberoi Center for Learning and Development from where he debuted his career and stayed on for 15 years. It was here that on one day he, when he was but a Sous-Chef, called upon, by virtue of his excellence in his art, to spearhead the food production of a special event at The Oberoi Srinagar of nobody else than Rai Bhadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, the Founder-Chairman of Oberoi Group. It was at The Oberoi New Delhi that he was one of the chefs in the opening team of La Rochelle, the famous fine-dining French restaurant and the moved on to Bangalore to set up the Delicatessen at the Oberoi. 

He though worked at different hotel groups, he found Hyatt Group to be ‘ahead of others’ with regard to innovation and advancement in the culinary field. His discovery to his amazement and dismay, was when he found in the capacity of the executive chef at the Radisson Punjabi Bagh that the clients were showing preference to the vegetarian food. “Being in the Punjabi Bagh area, I thought the non-veg dishes, on which I was doing a great amount of innovation, would be appreciated by the Punjabis living close by, but this was an unexpected discovery, so much so that some of them wanted their food without onion or garlic.” 

Another notable achievement which goes to the credit of Chef Goswami is his being awarded as a Culinary Champion in a competition during his tenure of 4 years at the IHG NOIDA, where 11 hotels had participated. 

Touching upon the subject of the current crisis of COVID, he commented that this was the ‘mother of all crises’ and said that every crisis should looked upon as an opportunity to derive a learning. without being depressed, we should understand that ‘This will also pass’… “Human beings are programmed to find a strategy to fight against every crisis” 

“We have dealt with many crises but have always come out victorious, be it the World Trade Center, floods in Srinagar or the 26/11 terrorist attack. We may have lost a tremendous amount of business, suffered immense setbacks, lost our clients, but, as the time passed by, it all came back to normal.” “Strategy is what we need and, sooner or later, WE WILL win over this situation”

Goswami elaborated vividly, by way of visuals, on the direct losses that the hotels and the restaurant businesses have had to recently suffer and suggested a few practical solutions: 

Be Positive: Losing hope will further deteriorate the situation and make us weak and fragile. Let us be positive and have a hope that this crisis will eventually have to go.

Conduct SWOT Analysis: We all must take stock of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as being aware of these things will build more confidence in us. 

Attend Management Courses: – create building blocks: The best way we can use the amount of time available to us is by further sharpening our knowledge and abilities. We always complain that we do not get enough time to devote for professional development and to further refine our skills. Now is the time that we all must do it as it is going to be easily possible. 

Attend Webinars: Many webinars are being announced these days and all of them are conducted and participated by eminent and well experienced people in the hospitality trade and they are absolutely for free. Let us attend them and enhance our knowledge, listening to these renowned people will surely enhance our knowledge. The best thing is that you can ask questions straight to the speakers. 

Learn foreign language: With China expected to slow down on international trade, Korea (South) is expected to rise as a major economy and will, whenever the situation becomes better, create advantage for Korean speakers. 

Educate others: A part of the time available to you should also be devoted towards educating others, underprivileged children so that they could get to learn many new things. 

Try your new dishes at home: For all you know, just doing impromptu, random trials at home might land up into you making some exotic dishes, which you will have the liberty of branding as your own… 

Invest time to strengthen the family bonds: You will probably never get such an opportunity which allows you to spend long periods of time with your spouse and children, which you must capitalize upon and enjoy their company. Tell them interesting stories and you all can get into the kitchen and try new dishes. This aspect should not be forgotten at all. 

PROFESSIONALLY: The hotels and service establishments must invest time on redesigning their menus, relook at kitchens layouts, try to understand the market trends, get to multi-tasking, build up the level of confidence and amongst staff members. 

This COVID will go away one day, we must prepare ourselves in advance and be ready to ride when the BUS Comes…