Machan 3.0: Past Meeting The Present
With the on-going crisis and new norms in place, Machan 3.0 features its all-new ambience that has been redesigned as per the modern trends while reminiscing the days when 'machans' were built in forests. With its bamboo-based designs across the ceiling and wildlife peeking through the walls, one gets to experience the journey into the wild at Machan 3.0.
A culinary legacy that began in 1978 is back with a newer version while staying true to its roots. The iconic Machan restaurant at Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, is known for its unique offerings that are inspired by the rich heritage of Indian forests and across the world. With the on-going crisis and new norms in place, Machan 3.0 features its all-new ambience that has been redesigned as per the modern trends while reminiscing the days when 'machans' were built in forests. With its bamboo-based designs across the ceiling and wildlife peeking through the walls, one gets to experience the journey into the wild at Machan 3.0. Not only the design elements have been reimagined, but the iconic restaurant at the heart of the national capital has also introduced new immunity-boosting dishes and re-introduced its fabled Kona Coffee priced at INR 5 as mentioned in the original menu of 1978. BW HOTELIER talks to Arun Sundararaj, Executive Chef of Taj Mahal, New Delhi who enlightens us more about the Machan’s new norms and exciting menu that guests have been relishing for four decades.
How has the landscape of food and beverage industry changed due to Covid-19?
Like every other industry and sector, the food & beverage industry has also seen a drastic change because of the pandemic. This lull period, that of the lockdown and the gradual upliftment of restrictions, actually allowed us to innovate, to chart a new course and to implement new initiatives in a manner like never before. With the launch of the all-new Machan in the national capital, we have introduced novel dishes and brought back the classics in a new and unique way. Machan now presents itself in a modern way, while being rooted to its tradition. Change being the only constant, we wanted to elevate the dining experience and culinary philosophy of Delhi’s much-loved dining destination by offering novel cuisine, an all-new ambience reminiscent of its glorious past and stay relevant across generations with global trends. Even in F&B, the focus is now a lot on health and immunity, given the current situation.
The new Machan offers an eclectic a la carte menu. Breakfast presents a highly personalised experience with a selection of indigenous and international favourites and the all-new Machan Breakfast Trails. A state of the art kitchen and culinary infrastructure, combined with the robust training and augmented safety and hygiene protocols, will ensure a seamless dining experience for our guests. The new menu highlights by an array of authentic and flavourful dishes. The classic and comfort foods are sure to delight the palate and the mid night menu will strike a strong cord with our patrons. A selection of fine wines and champagnes are served throughout the day. In addition, specially curated beverages for the day and night, signature cocktails and concepts such as ‘the kitchen meets the bar’, healthy offerings and global trends define the unique repertoire of Machan’s beverage philosophy.
Hygiene is more critical than it has ever been. What all new protocols have been put in place at Machan to assure greater customer satisfaction?
The safety and well-being of our guests and associates remain our utmost priority. We have augmented our already stringent safety and hygiene protocols. With initiatives such as the introduction of QR codes for menus, contactless billing, well-distanced seating along with protective shields, sanitization stations, protective gear for our associates and enhanced training, to name a few, we ensure adherence to the guidelines laid down by the authorities as well as those articulated in Tajness A Commitment Restrengthened.
At Machan, we have installed a state-of-the-art Swedish air purification System to control PM10, PM2.5 & PM1 as per WHO guidelines to mitigate the spread of harmful microbes and also to maintain the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as per the prescribed norms given by ISHRAE and ASHRAE. In addition, the H13 HEPA filter has been installed, is a medical-grade air filter, capable of removing a minimum of 99.95 per cent particles at MPPS (0.21 microns) to maintain PM2.5 levels below 25mg m3 and to arrest air borne virus carriers via return air grill.
What training model did Machan devise to instill the new norms in the staff for their everyday working?
The training modules are meaningful, engaging and have been conducted across various platforms over the last few months. The focus was on re-imagining Guest interactions in the New Normal (Unmasking the smile and Service Philosophy).
While on-ground training was being held in the pre-Covid times, during the lockdown and weeks that followed, the modus operandi moved to the virtual spheres such as MS Teams. We handpicked a dynamic, passionate and experienced team to represent Machan 3.0. With the robust Learning & Development plan, stalwarts such as Chef Tapas and a highly motivated team of Chefs and F&B Service, we were successful in training the team even in these challenging times.
The various aspects of training included:
Machan specific modules: The legacy of Machan, an in-depth knowledge of cuisine – both past and present, enhanced learnings on the beverage philosophy, information on the various forest regions, their inspiration and connect with the new F&B offerings, the history and culture of those places, the new breakfast culinary & service philosophy etc.
Tajness A Commitment Restrengthened: Augmented safety & hygiene protocols, the exacting standards and SOP’s under the new norms, the modified service philosophy, etc.
Trust Awareness Joy: The key pillars of TAJ and the inspiration behind what we do…
Refresher and advanced courses: Back to basics, domestic & global trends, competition analysis, simulations, quizzes, expert sessions (F&B, grooming, etc.)
The snagging and on-boarding was an intensive process as well for our colleagues in F&B Production and F&B Service.
What are your views on food delivery? Is Machan a part of Qmin? Will delivery play an increasingly larger role in your business?
To leverage our F&B offerings in Delhi, IHCL brought in signature gourmet dishes from its iconic restaurants through the successfully launched Qmin initiative. Now available on a mobile app as well, the Qmin App gives guests a differentiated delivery experience through a seamless interface that allows them to personalize their order, curate menus and track deliveries real time.
In the current scenario and in times to come, guests prefer getting services/products/experiences delivered. With Qmin, guests can now order their favorites from Taj’s iconic restaurants and enjoy gourmet food delivered at their doorstep. With this, our guests can experience our cuisines at home. We are ensuring a differentiated delivery experience with an enhanced focus on maintaining stringent protocols of safety and hygiene. This includes contact-less delivery and the mandatory use of protective gear for delivery executives in sanitised vehicles. The packaging too is eco-friendly utilizing bio-degradable materials and comes with customised insulation boxes to preserve the food whilst being delivered.
The legendary restaurants of Taj Mahal, New Delhi - Machan and House of Ming, are on the Qmin platform and have received a tremendous response from guests. We are privileged with the patronage for these much-loved culinary legends.
Cloud Kitchens have now become the most viable option, how do you see the future of the same?
The cloud kitchen concept is built on the platform where in the dining space is a delivery mode and all orders are placed online. We have currently launched Qmin and the process currently followed is wherein we pool in our resources and get the meals organised. As our outreach needs to be across various areas in the city we have our hotels set up in various locations which give us a larger outreach to our guests. In a cloud kitchen, the options to combine resources and multi-skill helps as it reduces manpower and high rental costs. As we already have our own kitchens we are pooling our resources to strengthen our brand and product.
Tell us about any new Machan's exciting offers to attract guests?
Machan at Taj Mahal, New Delhi has been a much-loved dining destination with a pioneering legacy that began in 1978. With cherished memories and culinary indulgences, Machan has been a gastronomic legend for over four decades.
The a la carte breakfast experience at Machan is all-new, highly personalised and elevated in offerings. Guests can experience the novel Machan Breakfast Trails, The Pancakes & Churros selection and a host of local and international favourites.
The repertoire of beverages is exciting, affordable and offers something for everyone all through the day and night.
The lunch and dinner menu features new dishes that have been inspired by the forests of the world and India.
The midnight menu makes a come-back with classics that are priced 30-40 per cent lower.
Machan brings back the fabled Kona Coffee amidst a stunning new ambience that is a confluence of the old and the new and where the past meets the present. This coffee is a blend of 70 per cent Arabica and 30 per cent Robusta; this addresses the need for the coffee to have both body and soul. Arabica gives the cup a delicate and soft aromatic taste sensation, while coffee Robusta has a more intense, bitter and persistent flavour.
Offer: Kona Coffee makes a grand come-back in the Midnight menu at Machan priced at INR 5* (its price in the original menu of 1978; *available to guests from 2300 – 0600 hours, with a minimum spend of INR 500 per guest).
What all-new dishes have been introduced keeping the immunity-boosting factor in mind?
The new menu highlights an array of authentic and flavourful dishes. The breakfast is a multi-cuisine a-la-carte offering with quality of ingredients and healthy options in focus (ragi dosas, vegan pancakes, enhanced usage of greens/ beetroot/ avocado/ grapefruit, black and white quinoa etc. to name a few). Our Chefs’ have stressed on the importance of immunity and healthier options when it comes to all the eclectic dishes at Machan.
Citrus based signature dishes and beverages have been curated for our guests. Celebrating local & global flavours with a focus on health, immunity & comfort options is what the new Machan Menu has to offer.
For our esteemed patrons, Machan brings back memories with tales of culinary adventures and late night conversations over coffee. With novel offerings such as Tehucan Salad, Mushrooms on the Forest Floor, The Ocean Turns Purple, Lamb Agnolotti, Sariska Footprints, Ecuadorian Jivara Forest Berries, The Machan Breakfast Trails and much more, our master chefs have carefully curated a selection that includes trendy, healthy and celebrated global flavours. Experience nostalgia as the Midnight Menu returns with evergreen dishes such as PMKK, Chicken Montecarlo, Bull’s Eye, Kona Coffee and The Bread Basket
When do you expect the restaurants to bounce back to normalcy?
Taj Mahal, New Delhi, an iconic landmark in the Capital, has been privileged with the patronage of guests for over 40 glorious years. With the lifting of the lockdown and the onset of the festive period, our hotels have witnessed an encouraging number of footfalls, from weddings to staycations and at our restaurants. The return to normalcy will be a slow and steady journey.
With our heightened safety and hygiene protocols combined with the magic of Tajness, we welcome guests to experience the re-imagined avatar of Machan, and the stylishly refreshed avatar of Emperor Lounge, and enjoy our warm, attentive and unobtrusive service.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BOUNCING BACK - FROM SURVIVAL TO REVIVAL ISSUE VOL 6, ISSUE 6'
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