Chef Karann Talwar, MD and gastronome chef, Kitchen Kraft Catering Company, talks about his vision for the catering company and the change in its operating model in the new normal
What challenges and opportunities did you face while pursuing a career in culinary arts, and subsequently as a chef entrepreneur?
To be honest, there were no challenges as such. I was always very sure and determined what I was looking for in my life. I feel fortunate to have the best of the trainers, mentors, colleagues, that when I started my company, I was blessed to have a very good team that was humble, hard-working and shared the same vision as mine. That’s the reason that with a very small span of seven years, we have been able to achieve what we always dreamt of and yes we are growing, we are learning more gradually with time.
While the HoReCa sector has been adversely impacted due to the pandemic including cash flow crunch and unemployment, how at Kitchen Kraft did you optimise costs ahead of the lockdown?
Until now, we had golden handshakes with our employees those who were underperforming since last year. We tried to cut cost wherever we had extra spending. In order to revive the cash flow and profit, recently we have started home food delivery services while maintaining all the precautionary measures. Also, we have indulged in the concept of ‘Intimate weddings’ that include very few guests in order to abide by the orders of the government. We have also implemented pre-plated dining instead of the traditional buffet.
How are you curating F&B experiences and re-engineering menus for the guests in the new normal?
Considering the pandemic, we have come up with ‘Immunity boosting dishes’ in our new menu to help our patrons maintain immunity. Some of these dishes are Vita C Chaat, Fermented Veggies Udon noodles, Crispy Kale with hung curd and tamarind chutney. Secondly, we are using more live food counters in order to reduce the contact period of food with the air. This will even lead to avoiding wastage of food. Plus, we ensured that every buffet counter has a sneeze guard over the food counters.
How do you see the scope of luxury catering segment moving forward?
I believe that the catering industry in the country is finally extending its reach beyond weddings. A few years ago, the members of the Indian families usually cooked during social gatherings. Now they are hiring caterers for the same. For ensuring quality standards, the patrons hire professional catering services. Moreover, apart from the social gatherings and festive occasions, several formal events, seminars, conferences and other business-related events, etc., demand for professional catering services. This adds to the success of the luxury catering industry. Furthermore, there is rapid evolution and a lot of organised operators comprising international catering companies and big restaurant chains have also started taking catering seriously. Also, there are many startup companies that are trying to aggregate the restaurants to supply food to the needs of the individual customers or a small group of people.
With international operations too, what would be the future course of action for Kitchen Kraft? Would it be consolidation or expansion to new geographies?
Right now, I don’t see any expansion to new geographies outside India as of now since people are scared to travel due to the outbreak of the virus and no one knows the right time to travel abroad. However, within India, surely we are going to expand once the scenario becomes normal and we will explore more beautiful destination locations for the destination weddings in India.