Ingredients should be elegant and Surprising


Bangalore is IT hub of India, as an executive chef what strategy you implement at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal while curating the menu for a corporate event.

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Corporate events tend to vary between meetings, product promotions, annual company events, etc. While preparing for a corporate event I always consider a couple of boxes I need to check. Understanding the schedule and type of event goes a long way in deciding the final menu. This way we know the scale of the event and the type of food best suited for the same. When discussing the menu with the clients, the guest preferences are key, along with keeping in mind special dietary needs like allergies, intolerance, etc. We always make sure that we incorporate seasonal as well as the freshest of ingredients. To finish, the end presentation of the food is worked around the scale and style of the event. Depending on the layout of the seating, the style of presentation is chosen accordingly.

What are the sustainable methods that have been adopted by the culinary team of Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Sustainability, especially in today’s world, is a prime concern of mine. We at Courtyard Bengaluru Hebbal always follow the best practices towards sustainability.

Everything we do is directed towards reducing our carbon footprint. When it comes to the product, we source local and organic vegetables and prioritize plant-based foods. We make sure to design the menus as per available seasonal produce. When it comes to sourcing seafood, we make sure to select sustainable seafood options. Working around waste management is also a major priority in my kitchen, as we do our best to recycle and reuse resources.

Being an IT hub, Bangalore witnesses the weekend party culture. What special Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru have on their menu focusing millennial crowd?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: The hotel mainly caters to the weekend party culture at our rooftop bar and restaurant, Nazaara, which serves north Indian cuisine. We focus on serving simple, healthy and balanced food items to our guests. Current party-goers are always into quick yet intriguing dishes, so we make sure to keep the food light, appetizing and visually appealing to the present crowd.

At Marriott on wheels, which serves multiple cuisines how do you prioritize the cuisines on your menu?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Prioritizing of a cuisine depends on several factors which include the availability of ingredients, the utilization of main ingredients, the pairing of the main and secondary ingredients, the elegance and surprise. The food delivery services at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal tends to cater to the customer, by providing them food of the exact quality and taste as they would find with dining at our restaurants on site. We want to be able to bring the experience to the consumer when they aren’t able to come to us.

How is curating a menu for the operational property different from curating the menu for the property which is yet to be operational?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Curating a menu for an operational property and pre-opening property depends on one major factor i.e. the clientele or the type of guests we are or would be catering to. In an operational property, when curating a menu, we are already well aware of the type of clientele, the average preferences, etc. All that needs to be done is to keep up with variety as per the market trend. However, in case of a pre-opening property, it is more of a trial and error method or experimental process, where one has to run through the market trends, type of clientele, their preferences, prices suitable for each item, the portion size, the market availability, nutritional benefits, etc.

How value-added customer services can play a key role in newly launched properties?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Value-added customer services build customer loyalty, lower price sensitivity over time, tend to resist changing service providers, identify themselves with the brand and maintain a strong preference for the services purchased against our competitors. This allows to reduce the marketing costs and increase occupancy rate and profitability.
Customers always want to come back for the entire experience, so making sure we adapt to the wants and needs of the current day customer is key. Going the extra mile for a consumer is the best way to add a little more appreciation from them.

A 5% growth in customer retention can result in 25-125% of growth in profits (Frederick F. Reichheld and W. Earl Sasser Jr 1990).

You have a plethora of experience heading the kitchen of big players in the restaurant industry, what role does ‘A chef’ play in the success of the brand?

Lakhbir Singh Chahal: Earlier a chef with a firm hand and confidence in cooking automated a kitchen. But nowadays, a chef needs to be involved in more than just that, to successfully run a brand. Chefs need to be both culinary instructors and motivational coaches, leading a kitchen through education and inspiration.

Chefs need to be up to date on the latest culinary trends. Possessing this fervent interest can help the chef develop and lead his team, to create great dishes full of fresh flavours! In current times, a chef needs to be able to financially manage his kitchen to ensure a profitable business at the end of the day. They need to be efficient and knowledgeable with everything from costing, recipes and menus to running labour and food cost. Keeping sustainability in mind, we at the hotel focus on cost-cutting in direct relation with ways to reduce carbon footprint and waste. Most importantly, with the growing competition, a chef has to be able to market himself as well as his creations. The relationship with his customers and the community helps to build his name as well as his business. Currently, one has to be active on social media as well, to build much needed online presence, and show the digital world about the capability of the kitchen and their team.