Dine-in still sees the most demand! Delivery is an essential part of new normal: Chef Vikas Swadesh Seth, Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure

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January 28, 2021 1:04 PM

Dine-in still sees the most demand! For many Indian families, eating out had become a way of life, a celebration of small and happy moments, professional and personal triumphs or simply a way of enjoying life’s finest moments over food.

Chef VikasChef Vikas Swadesh Seth, Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure

Dine-in still sees the most demand! For many Indian families, eating out had become a way of life, a celebration of small and happy moments, professional and personal triumphs or simply a way of enjoying life’s finest moments over food. Indeed, looking back, one can sense that it had been a glorious time, when on an impulse, you could have walked into any dhaba or fine dining restaurant and not worried about what’s to be served on your plate. Coming back to the present, we know that the pandemic has changed the way we eat and reinvented kitchen spaces across hotels and restaurants would be worth a closer study. Most leisure and premium hotels and fine dining restaurants across the country have lists of safety protocols that read like an exhaustive framework of guidelines to ensure the complete wellness of their staff and guests.

“Dine-in still sees the most demand, while delivery has also seen a substantial increase,” observes Chef Vikas Swadesh Seth, Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure, “Delivery is an essential part of the new normal, at home get togethers, DIY kits, office meal boxes and virtual master classes are all examples of this shift.”

How hotels are now gearing up for sustainability and safety

Whatever dining option Indians now prefer, be it dine-in or home delivery or takeaways, safety protocols take precedence to ensure your safety, as a consumer, is covered first. So much so, that in 2021, innovative approaches are being crafted to also ensure sustainability and safety come to the forefront.

At Embassy Leisure, temperature screening of guests, delivery personnel and employees at all entry points and the adequate provision of sanitation stations in restaurant premises are starting points. Furthermore, cutlery, crockery and glassware are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised, as are all high touch surfaces. Adding to this, targeted training and development programs for all teams to ensure emergency preparedness prior to reopening, and mandatory use of masks as well as gloves for all food handlers and reduction of number of staff across shifts are now a part of the new protocols.

In this interaction with Financial Express Online, Chef Vikas Swadesh Seth, Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure shares how restaurants and kitchen spaces are redefining service standards and reimagining their spaces as well as their menus to ensure that while capacity will reduce, solutions will evolve to ensure seamless and prompt service.

How are kitchen spaces in premium restaurants being reworked in terms of social distancing norms?

It is vital for restaurants to reinvent themselves and implement changes which adhere to safety guidelines and reassure our guests and employees. Social distancing is the new normal, restaurants will have to straddle the line between ensuring this distance and the warm, hospitable ambience which attracts customers to dine out. The reduction in seating capacity will vary depending on the sheer size of the restaurant. What will however remain common is adherence to the distancing rules that provide comfort to our guests. We have also introduced demarcation in the work stations within the kitchen to ensure social distancing norms. Furthermore, with restaurants reopening monitoring and even testing our staff has become an extra assurance measure we are implementing. Many of the above mentioned hygiene norms were already in practise prior to the lockdown, they are reinforced and communicated to our patrons.

Tell us about kitchen processes and how it is being supervised to ensure safety given COVID-19

Allocation of safety officers, regular training and development has been the main objective.

What are the culinary changes/innovations/offerings during the ongoing pandemic situation?

Introduction of immunity boosting offerings, DIY kits for those guests that aren’t ready to venture out yet providing an at home experience, Lean menus, use of local ingredients and tracking of produce from procurement to production as well as the development of cloud kitchens harnessing existing manpower and infrastructure.

What kind of cuisine is witnessing an uptick in demand?

We have seen a notable footfall in our microbrewery Hopshaus, which serves global cuisine, adhering to a wide array of culinary requirements. Seasonal, local ingredients to produce a variety of cuisine.

How critical is the health and wellness of guests when tweaking the menu?

Caloric count & healthy menus are a trend that was prevalent pre-Covid as well, and has seen a spike during this pandemic. However we do see patrons coming back for their favourites as often as they choose these options. Furthermore, there is a visible inclination towards vegetarian options as well.

Given how contactless dining, paperless menus are shaping up, how do you visualize kitchens in future?

Kitchen’s in the future will need to be adaptable, dynamic and constantly reinvent to meet the current requirements. Dual menus, contactless dining, experiential transparency through live experiences which showcase safety parameters are all examples of the new wave of dining out.

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