Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar says “restaurants have to become flexible, consumer-centric post-Covid”
In a webinar conducted by BW HOTELIER, Chef Ranveer Brar shared how Covid-19 has impacted the Food & Beverage industry and what lies ahead.
At the age of 17, the passion for food made him run away from his home to carve a career on his own. This man is one of India’s youngest and brightest culinary stars, Ranveer Brar. The 42-year-old celebrity chef owns several restaurants and possesses a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Speaking of the profession, he says: “To be a great chef, you have to understand the food as well as the amount of love and passion it takes to cook food.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the food and beverage (F&B) business has declined given the stringent orders to shut hotels and restaurants to control the outbreak. Brar shared, “Fortunately, I have the ability to create content, which keeps me busy. And I think this is a good time to reach the consumer if he or she is not able to reach us.” Brar informed that they were going to start several projects in the Middle East and had several plans before Diwali – all got delayed, he said.
BW HOTELIER recently organized a weBBlast session ‘F&B Chutzpah: Dead or Still Alive’ featuring Chef Ranveer Brar. He shed light on the impacts on the food and beverage industry because of the Covid-19 pandemic and how the richness of Indian cuisine is critical in building immunity to the pandemic.
Brar speaking for his industry, stated that though it is about doing the best in these circumstances. “However, that requires certain help,” he added. Brar said, “It is a cry for help from all of us in the F&B industry, whether we are chefs, restaurants, or hotels.” He argued even though they are reaching out to the customer for: delivery, meal-kits, in-home caterings; however, to stay afloat, help is needed. “There is a need for a long-pending rationalization for the industry.” He stated, “The rationalization needs external stimulus and if it does not come too fast, we really can’t be hopeful."
The live-streamed weBBlast session had a truly engaging conversation with the audience as well. Among the audience, several of Brar’s fans and students asked him questions, particularly involving the future of the F&B industry. He is of the opinion that there is no need to be depressed since this phase shall pass. Rather, he asked students to practice during this period and put their content out on social media. Brar quoted his mentor Germany-based Chef Barnard: “Always remember, as long as people will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will have a job. And if you do it well, you will have a good job.”
PM Modi recently spoke about his new mantra ‘Vocal for Local’ and has asked the industry leaders to use the current crisis to make India self-reliant. Chef Brar shared that the world is looking for a healing, and if two cuisines that can provide natural healing through food are Indian and Chinese - the oldest cuisines in the world. “With the current scenario, the world will hesitate to trust Chinese ingredients, and thus, India has this brilliant opportunity to project Indian ingredients as the inherent capacity to heal,” he informs.
Speaking on the future of the industry, Brar claims that the next big challenge is going to address a more local, demanding, and knowledgeable consumer who has now learned to cook. He elaborates, “Your consumer today has a completely different relationship with the food than what they had 60 days ago. People who never turned the gas on have cooked omelette and paratha for themselves.” Brar thinks, earlier they were determining the pace of change but now it is the consumers who will determine.
Brar also believes the post-Covid F&B scenario is going to be more democratic and personal. Seeing it to a positive direction in which the industry is going, Brar expressed, “We will start using local ingredients because we don't know how the food imports will shape up. The fact that we are going to use a lot of local, less expensive regional ingredients that have travelled less and have less carbon footprint on them is a great positive that was due to happen.” “The aura that is going to be created around a product - in terms of what guests are consuming and the experience of it - will determine how successful you become as a brand.” Moreover, he believes the restaurants have to become flexible and consumer-centric with their services. And, if they are able to do, he expressed, the variety and personalization of experience are going to see a new high.
Brar, who hails from the streets of Lucknow and being a hardcore Punjabi by birth, had the privilege to experience the raw rusted Punjabi culture as well as the finesse adabi Lucknowi culture. He stated, “Being sandwiched between the two extremes made me realize over the years who I am and brought the best out of me.” Brar believes in the philosophy: ‘if you crash too fast, you have the opportunity to rise fast as well’. Optimistically, he asserted, “We live in a world where the pace of everything has increased, and I don’t think it will take us long to bounce back. I honestly believe that if there is any country that has the ability to tide through this with the least damage - it is us. You can't beat the entrepreneurial spirit that we have.”
Brar also shared if not a chef, he would have been a photographer or a writer. He shared a few lines pointing to the importance of food and the essential role of farmers in society:
Aaj mamla gambhir hai, sabki duniya zar zar hai
Aaj mamla gambhir hai, sabki duniya zar zar hai
Ab aai pe aayi hai, band saara bazaar hai
Na gaadi pe, na sone pe, na bangle pe, dhyan hai
Mazze ki baat hai sirf ann pe kataar hai
Aa aj uth, uss andata, uss kisan ko salami de
Soya nahi hai wo kayi raato se
Uske sar pe karza sawaar hai
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