Mayfair Hotels and resorts deliver world-class hospitality at 9 different locations of India, how do you differentiate the culinary Strategy according to the geographical locations?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Very rightly asked that we are having hotels at different geographical locations in India and as for as culinary strategy is concerned we have standardised our menus for all locations based on few principles as share below:
What Research and development techniques do you implement before improvising / Innovating the menu?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: The R & D techniques are very simple for us to work on and basically our marketing person who specializes in market analysis on consumer behaviour, based on sample surveys done on periodic timelines with regard to changed preferences as for as food habits of our guests are concerned (recent survey done in April 2020, Titled food preferences during and after Covid 19) and comes up with current and prospective needs /wants of our guests and if found warranted the data is put into action by the initiation of mentioned steps:
By having an ideation process with all concerned like a Marketing person, F & B Operations Head, Food Technologist and Specific Culinary team, how to meet guest newfound expectations.
Our Culinary Team will provide guidance during the ideation process because we understand the role new menu items play in a foodservice operation’s strategic plan. Chefs also provide expertise in kitchen logistics and flavour profiles and can work directly with material manufacturers and equipment companies to find cost-effective solutions.
So brainstorming sessions are conducted, all members share their ideas and how to take them ahead.
Exploration and Feasibility:
Specific strategies that can bring ideas to fruition. In this process, our team assesses its collective resources and identifies challenges and opportunities.
All team members contribute as per their roles, once improvisation or innovation in the menu is found essential for keeping business going on.
Our team of Chefs will share their expertise and skills to help operations to develop creative, higher-quality menu concepts that satisfy consumer needs.Our Chefs also introduce and define the culinary technique and traditions that could be converted into process strategies that will also address consumer needs. On the basis of preferences/needs, new items are listed and debated thoroughly within the team.Our Food technologist will identify potential ingredient formulation and process strategies that will allow the optimization of safety and quality.
F & B Operations Head will keep in mind logistical issues raised by the strategies, the feasibility of equipment utilization, kitchen/restaurant layout, labour resources, restaurant brand identity, etc. as well as use this information to drive and direct the creative process.
Validation and Marketing Test
Once all issues are addressed, our specific culinary team starts working on new improvised or innovative recipes by trail method and standardisation is done by developing recipes for Quality sampling. Once sampling sessions get completed and Quality parameters are assessed by Team as per guidelines and the same items are introduced in as a particular cuisine restaurant as a limited-time offering or a special addition to the menu.
Sale of items serves as a major indicator of new improvised /innovative menus’ success as well as feedback from guests.
Depending on guest feed/sale, if required or necessary, some corrections will be undertaken and the problem gets resolved.
Introduction in Regular Menu
Once Our R & D team finds that newly improvised or innovative items’ ability to sell, contribute to profits and meet consumer needs as per expectation, the same items are introduced in Regular Menu.
In the era of fusion cuisine, how important it is to keep your menu Up to date with the latest trends?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Fusion cuisine era is almost there since the beginning of international trade, one of the oldest food fusions is pasta as many believe it to be a descendant of the Chinese noodle, brought to the Italians during the 13th Century.Long back the combination of Indian and English flavours brought in a new fusion dish, which is called as Kedgeree, basically adapting a traditional Indian rice and lentil preparation known as ‘Kicheri’ for English tastes.
It is of great importance for us to keep our menus updated with latest cuisine trends so that we cater to the changing tastes of our guests with new combinations of flavours, but for that too we adopt an established pragmatic procedure of guest surveys/ feedbacks before putting them in menus or changing menus. Once we ascertain that a change of taste by way of fusion, contemporary or progressive cuisine is much needed, we introduce a new section in our menus as “New Flavours” for such type of new trends.This type of pragmatic procedure enables us to make our menus updated as well as be ahead in the competitive market and cater to discerning taste buds of Gen Z age group Guests (those born after 1995).
You have been associated with International High Profile SportsEvents, how the roles and responsibilities of a chef get changed in this type of events? Please share your experience with us?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Yes, I had been fortunate enough to get associated with International High Profile Sports Events as an Executive Chef representing South Asian Countries, along with two more Executive chefs, one Representing East Asian Countries And the 3rd one from Europe representing west Asian Countries and headed by Executive Director Operations in the year 2006 at Doha Qatar for Doha Asian Games.
It is a great and memorable experience that one recollects having been associated with from the Project process to Culmination of the event.
High profile international sports events are planned with fixed timelines under different phases as below:
To accomplish such type of Huge High Profile International Sports Events is not a cakewalk and requires a lot of Co-ordination with Organising Committee from the beginning of Project to Culmination of Event, wherein it takes 8 months to a year.
Such types of huge high profile Sports Events require a lot of Planning, Extensive Menu Creations, Organising of Procurements and Vendor Management, Quality Control System Establishment, Health and Safety Monitoring Mechanism, Recruitment and Finally Execution.
As the participants of any International Sports Event are often perceived as men and women sportspersons but in actual, there are a lot of other people or stakeholders associated with the successful outcome of the Event.
•Competitors or Players with their country’s Entourage and Coaches.•Officials of Sports Ministries from Different Countries.•Ambassadors, Mission officers and their staff from different missions located in the host country.• Suppliers Or Vendors.• Event Management Or Organising Committee and entire Medical Care, Housekeeping, Safety and Security services and Administrative staff.•Staffing.•Spectators.•International Media•Very important people.•Volunteers
As an Executive Chef along with other two Executive Chefs, my responsibilities in addition to above-mentioned ones before Operational Phase of Project, were first of all checking of the Buffet Drawings and Layouts for thematically done dining halls, Restaurant Arcade and at Stadium for Sportspersons as well as for other participants too. At Sports village, we have 3 Thematic Dining Halls Biggest one for Asian Countries (10000 Pax sitting Capacity), 2ND One for Arabian Countries ( 3000 pax sitting capacity) and 3rd one for all Companies Workers / Officers associated with the Event ( capacity 3000 pax). Once through with our inputs on buffet layouts and drawings, the next step was Extensive Menu Development for all Dining Places.
Developed Menus were varied in nature and for Sportspersons the menus created were in the range of almost 200 more items in each meal and food comprising of cuisines from almost all 60 participating countries.
Next step was calculations for quantification of materials required and advance ordering requirements to be kept ready, delivery schedule and orders placed with the Procurement department. Quantification of materials in such huge and extensive menus is a very critical subject matter and requires a lot of expertise to arrive at perfect requirements.
Recruitment drive in different countries was undertaken for almost 1600 workers and 400 Managerial / Supervisory category positions 6 months in advance and workers were called just 4 months earlier to the inaugural date of Games and batch-wise reporting.
Mis-en-place and some of the prep work as per planned schedule were made ready before 2 months of the beginning of Games.
Event operation started 2 months in earlier to Games, as we have to cater to all workforce and associate officers /organising committee members and others involved in sports village, the nos.were almost ranging between 2000 – 3000 but here menus were not so elaborate like Players.
Although our operation started 2 months prior to the inauguration of games full-fledged huge high profile food services were provided for 18 days, wherein we served from 40000 to 50000 pax a day for their 4 meals in Sports village and we had a restaurant complex and Stadium catering too with us.
You have promoted Indian Cuisine globally, according to theCurrent scenario how chefs can play a vital role in uplifting regional Cuisines?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Thank you for reminding me about a little bit I have done for the promotion of Indian cuisine abroad, yes in present scenario the best way to influence and uplift Indian regional cuisines is that all technology Savvy Professional Chefs, Home Chefs, Food historians, Influencers, Bloggers and foodies should come forward to bring the regional cuisines into public limelight through social media as well as other media channels by doing demos of recipes, writing about regional cuisines, doing tasting sessions at Pvt residencies by Influencers, blogging about regional cuisines and comments from foodies about any specific regional cuisine.
Social media being in easy reach of the public and having a huge impact will too serve as a catalyst for the uplifting of regional Indian cuisines in the present situation.
Please tell us what makes Mayfair hotels and resorts comparatively more appealing and attractive holiday or weekend destinations for the guests and customers?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Mayfair offers a composite all in one Resort package, where staying in Luxury with Health Safety, within a comfortably created microclimate and providing best gourmet dining facilities, personalized but precautionary service attitude, Safe Spa experiences, in house family entertainment/activities and a promise of a vacation that gives a joyous fulfilment to a guest and a feeling of value for money spent in locations that include beaches, mountains, lakeside and which caters to all the needs of a discerning traveller, be it for corporate brainstorming, a family get together, an unforgettable honeymoon or just one which offers blissful solitude.
At Mayfair hotels and resorts what practices do you adapt topromote sustainable cooking?
Chef Nisar Ahmed: Mayfair Hotels & Resorts have been conceptualized as nature friendly at the beginning only, so all the operations are tuned to promote Sustainability. Creation of green microclimate in and around hotels itself promotes a clean environment.We at Mayfair hotels and Resorts in a true and honest sense follow the principles of Sustainable cooking by procuring local food materials and implement methodology so that our process does not affect local sustainability, health and the environment.
Our Philanthropist Chairman Mr Dilip Ray is always of an unwavering belief & resolve to develop local resources which automatically leads to the welfare of local populace as well as reduces carbon footprints, so saves the environment too and stresses that preference to be given to local farmers produce.At beach hotels, we buy seafood from local fishermen that way we try to promote sustainable cooking too.Quite often we as a team visit the local markets and do spot purchasing besides having all local suppliers only with us.
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