The Right Ingredients

Updated: Nov 8 2003, 05:30am hrs
The winds of change is sweeping the kitchen. Speak to Executive Chef, Ananda Solomon, Taj President, Mumbai and you realise rustling up dishes involves not only creativity in your hands but also management comprising of various ingredients which make the cauldron. The chefs stately white garb could be easily replaced with a business suit and the arena could be the corporate boardroom instead of the kitchen as he delves upon aspects which finds application in todays business.

The concept of service which involves a value proposition involves planning for infrastructure, people and raw materials before embarking on the business. The thought holds relevance given the fact that it finds application in any business that one is looking to start. Globalisation today has ensured that in the food business, one has to be aware about what are the trends globally because the customer themselves are well informed, said chef Solomon.

And awareness for the chef comes through thorough research on the products, which has the potential and can be added to the array of offerings. A survey is done of the market in order to understand the customer, their requirements and what culinary trends are they adopting, he added.

TRIAL BY FIRE

Understanding consumer preferences across the world through detailed research
Planning at least 36 hours ahead for raw materials and cooking ingredients
Plan meticulously to avoid potential for crises situations
v Motivating and getting the best out of the team to deliver best service environment

After the identification of the cuisine, enough time is spent in understanding the geography of the region, the raw materials required, sourcing and eating habits. Understanding whether the cuisine can be eaten day in and out by eating it yourself and then placing the product in the market, said Chef Solomon.

If all this is the background work that is involved, managing a kitchen also requires deftness particularly in people management, as one has to lead a team which has people from various cultural backgrounds, temperament. It is also important to bring in a high degree of creativity too. For chef Solomon, a good leader is one who himself has been in the thick of things and is therefore apt to lead the team. A good coach should always be one who was a player and has played the game. One cannot be a commander of a plane without knowledge of flying, said chef Solomon. He added that once you have a pool of talented people, you have to channelise them in order to arrive at a harmonious balance.

As in businesses, the effort in the restaurant business is also to minimise potential crises. According to chef Solomon, if it does happen, the resultant effect would be reflected in the product leading to loss of clientele.

What therefore is needed is meticulous planning. Thus sitting in his room, chef Solomon knows what is going to happen 36 hours hence. We have to plan a day and half in advance and look at all aspects. It is critical for the smooth functioning of the kitchen, he said.

And what is the recipe for success in his business in todays competitive scenario Chef Solomon fires the same ingredient which a management guru would. Quick decision making and implementing it with equal dexterity once all facets have been looked into. Consistency in quality and delivering the quality at the right price, said chef Solomon.