-CB News Desk
With pandemic causing hindrance to the World Chef’s Day celebration, the Indian Culinary Forum began their month-long celebration of culinary arts with a knowledge session featuring a keynote address by German culinary master, Thomas A Gugler.
“The strategies, the possibilities, the opportunities, and definitely the mechanisms are changing and will change to a different level compared to what it has been till now. But I believe there is nothing to worry about because, we as an intelligent race, can overcome this if we work together,” said Thomas A. Gugler, President, Worldchefs and keynote speaker at The Indian Culinary Forum’s Knowledge Summit held virtually on October 3, 2020, on F&B Opportunities and Challenges in the New Normal.
India is special and incredible. It has preserved its cooking style over centuries, with chefs using the same techniques unchanged over generations, making the food unique. Indian chefs are also taking utmost care about seasons, about organic and fresh food products, because this was one of the key successes along with using a combination of food, which gives the immune system a boost, he added.
He spoke on education being the key element for success, the younger generation can develop themselves for greater opportunity to be self-sustained. The session proceedings were initiated by Davinder Kumar, Vice President (F&B Production) & Executive Chef, Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi and President of Indian Culinary Forum on how the COVID situation had resulted in this virtual session — the beginning of a whole series of events which ICF has planned for the month including culinary sessions by celebrity and master chefs and the grand ICF 8th Annual Summit and Awards scheduled to be held on October 26, 2020.
“The food and beverage industry post-COVID-19 will change drastically. Henceforth, the three major factors governing the food and beverage business will be sanitation, hygiene, and social distancing. Our kitchens will have to be sterilized, they have to work like hospitals,” said Anil Bhandari, Chairman of AB Smart Concepts and chairman of the organizing committee at ICF after giving out his greeting to the participants.
He also spoke on new opportunities in the industry—like semi-cooked food and ready to eat foods—in a big way, he added. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the industry witnessing a closure of about 30 percent of restaurants across India, with the remaining 70 percent being hit by a drop in business of around 60 to 70 percent.
“Let us all collaborate and pool our talent and efforts to save our industry from the recession. I’m optimistic that we can overcome all odds with determination and concentrated efforts,” he motivated the audience.
“I should thank COVID-19, which made us realize the importance of our old traditional herbs and spices,” said Chef Kasiviswanathan, Vice President of the South India Chef’s Association (SICA) and Culinary Director of Radisson Blu Atria in Bengaluru.
Kasiviswanathan spoke of the importance of Indian foods and culinary techniques and their benefits. He thought the pandemic had encouraged the re-emergence of culinary traditions away from western cuisine during this period.
“During these past six months of Covid and the lockdown, the biggest thing that has happened is that hotels have warmed up to home deliveries. The next step in delivery that I recently saw is brunches being delivered — this something very new, there’s even a butler who goes to serve the guests,” said Salil Fadnis, Secretary, Western India Culinary Association (WICA) and Deputy General Manager and Executive Chef at Sahara Star, Mumbai.
Vineet Manocha, Senior Vice President—Culinary, Lite Bite Foods spoke on the opportunities of Indian food delivery. The food delivery statistics compared to countries like Singapore. An Indian household ordered in once a week at the most whereas Singapore orders almost seven times a week.
Parvinder Singh Bali, Corporate Chef, Learning & Development, The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development points out that COVID-19 has led to rethinking of education in hospitality, not just culinary arts.
“When we all joined the hotel industry — I’m talking about people of my age—it wasn’t something that was really looked at as a great career choice. 30 years ago, we would not see a chef in a hotel lobby. That is the reason culinary education in our country or around the world was very focused on product development,” Bali said.
“We should have a curriculum designed towards creating entrepreneurs, where on passing out students with a year or two of experience can open up their own venture,” he said adding that, with disruptors coming you know, some disruption has to come into culinary education.
Chef Prem Ram, Joint Secretary, ICF moderated the session.