Recipe for revival

It was during the challenging period of the pandemic that the F&B vertical of the hospitality industry introduced some extraordinary innovations. From reaching out to the guests with ‘at home’ experiences to offering healthier, hygienically safer and chef-driven delivery restaurants to cloud kitchens, F&B reinvented itself to attract the new while retaining the old and the loyal. Three of the most experienced chefs in the country share their views that helped them emerge stronger from the pandemic


HIMANSHU TANEJA, Culinary Director - South Asia, Marriott International 

Strategy for new brands and restaurants from sustainable, operational, profitable standpoint

Sustainable: The key takeaway would be to drive local demand, bringing sustainable stories and food concept. The key idea would be to source as many as ingredients from the local market to elevate a seasonal menu dining experience. At Marriott International, we have MESH (Marriott Environmental Sustainability Hub), a comprehensive programme, a guiding beacon and a measuring tool for all our hotels to reduce waste and achieve measured sustainability.

Operational standpoint: As a vertical, Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels helped us tide over the reduced business in pandemic months and has taken the shape of an independent profit centre, driving visibility, earning revenue and engaging guests who cannot make it to our hotels, delivering Marriott Experience at home.

Profitability: Marriott International has always believed in putting the associates first. In post-pandemic scenario, we have taken many measures to create talent streams and ensure that our profitability and flow-through are healthy. One of the measures is consciously reduced menu size to emphasise quality of craftsmanship and ingredients and centralised procurement.

Top 5 F&B fine dining brands across India

Baking Companies, JW Cafés, MBOW, Diwali with Marriott and Shaadi by Marriott. Some of these brands are not strictly fine dining but they do justice to the nomenclature and standpoint by incorporating the finest of ingredients, best craftsmanship, top quality service delivery, and adding great value to the overall guest experience.

Creating a strong second line 

Starting at the root level by engaging hotel schools and colleges. We, at Marriott International, have very successful voyager and internship programmes. Executive chefs are groomed to take on higher roles by way of participation in initiatives like advisory boards, chef workshops and taskforce exposures.

Behind-the-scene plan for bars and lounges

If positioned right, bars and lounges can be great revenue churners despite high taxations. In certain states, the local government is looking at increasing the operational hours and licensing is being made easier. Mostly, the concept in today’s world is driving progressive dining wherein the restaurants turn into lounging space as the evening progreses. Lastly, the plan is to have tie-ups and partnerships with beverage companies for symbiotic alliances.

Recipe to emerge stronger 

Focus on basics and delivery on promises coupled with an actively engaged guest base has delivered results for us; focus on talent and subject matter experts to drive the right quality; focus on right F&B marketing to drive innovation and engagement, for example Masters of Marriott.

What future has in store?

Fortunately, we have seen the return of travel and corporates are coming back along with bigger and better social function footfalls. The strategy is to strengthen the product, have a robust talent pipeline, and drive quality and growth principled on Marriott International’s core values of putting people first, embracing change, serving the world, and pursuing excellence.


MANISHA BHASIN, Corporate Executive Chef, ITC Limited

Reinventing and re-strategising an F&B push 

F&B marketing has always been a unique proposition and extremely complex in nature considering the ever-changing guest profile and expectations. Current times threw up challenges to surpass guest expectations without minimal interface. The ideology from high touch-oriented went on to contactless hospitality. The pandemic brought in fresh opportunities and obstacles. At ITC Hotels, our vision is to continue stay ahead of competition in F&B leadership through well-researched cuisine offerings, innovative F&B conceptualisation and building timeless brands. Our strategy ahead is to harness our strengths to our advantage and make an indelible impression. During the pandemic, ITC Hotels’ F&B division came up more than 200 fresh business ideas. 

Top 5 F&B fine dining brands across India 

Bukhara, Dum Pukht, Avartana, Yi Jing and Ottimo, Pavilion

Vocal for Local and Sustainable Approach

Sustainability is much larger in context than merely a business prospect. Our vision is to change the way sustainability is perceived in hospitality by peers as well as society. A team of experts at ITC is in final stage of R&D for implementing path-breaking sustainability initiatives. Our chefs are integrating local products and using fresh, seasonal produce on the menus with a shift to more sustainable and healthier options. At ITC Hotels, we offer local cuisine under Local Love programme and have introduced WelcomSthalika, offering guests unique local food experiences in a sustainable manner. Chefs also create a contemporary beverage selection showcasing a range of Indian offerings and complimenting them with Indian spices and flavours.

Creating a strong second line

ITC believes in developing in-house talent by supporting associates in growing multi-faceted. We recruit HMI graduates and instil qualities of a good chef once they join us as interns. Stringent evaluation at every step and cross-functional training happens at various levels to augment skills and leadership abilities to ensure better productivity. Coaching and mentoring is encouraged for overall development of young graduates into a better business manager. Conclaves and various team building activities facilitate operational effectiveness and foster creativity among the group as they also have role models within the company who have gone through the similar programme. A robust succession plan is designed and modified for organisational capability building continuously while talent retention and nurturing is done through engagement at different stages. Resilient HR and development plans are to attract the best talent in the industry.

24x7 coffee shops vs delivery model 

Eating out is here to stay. The pandemic changed the way guests perceived dining out, and luxury home dining came into foray. Fortunately, with the pandemic slowly fading away, we are seeing a gradual increase in dining out numbers. Hotels and restaurants are seeing influx of non-resident guests again, and chefs and F&B professional are ready to curate experiences like never before. There is massive progression in innovation and creativity in the last two years as a response to the pandemic. I am a strong believer that times ahead are far richer with our past experiences and filled with hope. The industry will not only revive but thrive in the reinvented F&B space with dining-out and home delivery model which will continue to exist side by side.

Recipe to emerge stronger from pandemic 

While we continue to serve our guests with warmth and hospitality, it is important to reinvent continuously. Post-pandemic where health and wellbeing have come into focus, many new cuisines have influenced the F&B space, and unique comfort dining experiences welcomed by guests. Being quick and agile was the only way to respond to situation which is what we did as organisation, giving guests a wow moment every time.


RAKESH SETHI, Corporate Executive Chef, Radisson Hotel Group, South Asia

Reinventing and re-strategising an F&B push 

We plan our F&B strategies based on a hotel’s geographical location. The main factors for strategising our F&B offerings are based on but not limited to the city, hotel’s hyper location and clientele expectations. Based on these factors broadly, the offerings and needs are different from one hotel to another. While we have divided our hotels into six clusters, we do not operate with a single blanket strategy to the whole. We understand the finer details while planning and strategising and our F&B offerings are tailor-made to the hotel with our guests being the central focus point. We had a significant focus on F&B as a part of our India Unification Plan wherein we created F&B initiatives and developed new restaurant concepts, re-invented our offerings to keep up with new guest demands and launched a new ancillary revenue vertical, Meetha by Radisson.

Top F&B fine dining brands across India 

The Great Kebab Factory, My South, Soy X Neung Roi, Broadway, Ni Hao and Meetha by Radisson 

Creating high ticket dishes 

We have selected top 20 signature dishes for all our hotels from the repertoire of our skilled chefs’ menus. These are high selling dishes on the menu which have a USP, a storyline and an amazing presentation apart from delectable taste. We use the finest ingredients for our dishes and have standardised each recipe. To ensure best cost price, there are contracted vendors who provide us the best ingredients at the best price. Our cluster procurement philosophy helps us obtain better material costs. This, in turn, helps our chefs strike a balance and deliver the highest quality food at a controlled cost.

Recipe to emerge stronger from pandemic 

RHG has made a clear strategy to address the challenges posed during the pandemic by initiating F&B initiatives like Take-Home a Chef; home delivery/ takeaway of food; packed corporate lunch boxes; institutional catering; outdoor catering and DIY kits. At most of our hotels, we have been concentrating on social events and conferences apart from dine-in and home delivery options. We are leveraging our unparalleled spread of hotels in all essential business and leisure destinations across the country to cater to the domestic market that has shown a resurgence. 

Behind-the-scene plan for bars and lounges

While we are addressing the concern with the authorities on hiked license fees and taxation, we have reinvented our beverage offerings by introducing fancy cocktails paired with some comfort and street food influenced small plates. We are focussing on creating alcohol-free classic cocktails, sous vide-infused flavoured beverages. We leverage our strength and cluster procurement tie-ups that allow us some advantage due to larger quantities ordering. 

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'MARCH-APRIL 2022 F&B SPECIAL'

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