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Chef Narender Singh: Efficient F&B cost management will remain turbulent with MICE business driven out

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As the hospitality industry in India has been working round the clock to help the needy and the frontline workers amid the ongoing crisis, chefs on the backfoot have been working day in day out preparing thousands of meals even during these challenging times. Chef Narendra Singh, corporate chef, Sarovar Hotels, in conversation with Akshay Nayak, highlights how the team of chefs at Sarovar Hotels is staying motivated and carrying out operations during these times

As many hotel groups and individual hotels across the country have come forward lending a hand with a ray of hope in combating the crisis by continuously providing meals, groceries and essential items to the needy and also hosting the frontline workers at the hotels, the professional culinary teams of hotels are still behind the work stations cooking wonders day in day out.

Initially, when the lockdown started, the first measure that Chef Narender Singh, corporate chef, Sarovar Hotels, took was, to spread awareness to all the chefs at the hotels about the need of the hour, which was to help the society by preparing meals for the needy and the frontline workers.

“We host webinars with all the chefs almost daily. As our hotels were shutting down in a phased manner temporarily with the nationwide lockdown announced, I ensured that all the kitchens at the hotels were also closed down while adhering to due protocols which included taking out all the food items, sanitising all the refrigerators and other equipment, utensils, etc. The chefs are trained on maintaining personal hygiene on a regular basis and also maintain distance while at the kitchens. As all the chefs are working day in day out, I ensure that they are motivated accordingly to keep their spirits high while we fight the crisis in solidarity. We also suggest them to practice yoga to keep them stress-free,” he informed about the practices maintained by the chefs at the hotels.

Moreover, Chef Singh said that, although healthy eating habits is a relative term, people are increasingly getting health-conscious and avoiding junk food. “To aid this, we at Sarovar have taken another initiative of preparing and promoting immunity-boosting recipes which are made available on our social media handles, to keep the citizens of the country healthy while letting them enjoy the lip-smacking creations.”

Chef Singh also said that they have planned to include an array of healthy dishes on the menu at their hotels once the world puts this crisis behind. He informed, “We are trying to standardise 10 healthy recipes across our network of hotels, so our loyal patrons have the option of enjoying the same flavours and healthy meal irrespective of the location where they are staying.”

Speaking about the F&B cost management, Chef Singh said that they have been maintaining it at 28-30 per cent, which is a fair number. “Banquets market is a huge contributor, and wherever we are having banquets in our hotels, the revenue share from the same is between 30-50 per cent. Volume cooking is a huge contributor to bring the F&B costs to an optimum level. Now with no banquets, as social gatherings and MICE business are completely driven out until further notice by the government, effective F&B cost management still remains a question for all hoteliers and restaurateurs with no immediate answer,” he informed.

“However, people don’t stop eating from outside and their trust in a brand like ours has encouraged us to deliver food at homes in the vicinity of our hotels. With due permissions from the local authorities in place, the home-delivered food format has been active at many of our hotels pan-India,” Chef Singh concluded.

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