The World of Food After Corona

Highlighting the future of food and beverage industry, celebrity chef Ranveer Brar writes about his learnings from the past year and the way ahead.

Some changes happen over time and some come with an upheaval. The latter is what we witnessed last year, when the world was brought to a grinding halt in more ways than one.

Amidst securing oneself, the one thing we all rushed around for was – food, be it stocking up the pantry and/or fridge, or learning to cook to sustain oneself, or simply to avert boredom.

But the bigger picture saw a huge change in the food ecosystem and its impact on everyone associated with everything food in every way, whether you were a restaurateur, running a cloud kitchen, a home chef or a food content producer or influencer in any format.

Food options and food availability options came to be redefined. Where eating out was gaining momentum by the day, the turn of events imposed a force majeure that encouraged people to explore their own culinary skills. 

What I believe everyone realised last year was that, we don’t need to go out for good food, good food can come to us.

One other thing we learnt, or re-discovered, was what our scriptures and our traditional cuisines have taught us all along; that all the answers lie in our pantry. The classic case of our Rasam getting tremendous demand as a medicine in the western world, as also our going back to roots, not just w.r.t ingredients and its sources thereof, but also food practices and paying attention to holistic well-being, superbly illustrate how food is the ultimate medicine and the limitations of what we consume as medicine.

I witnessed this myself when I delved into more and more workable recipes to share with my virtual connections; it reinforced my belief that Indian home cuisine is the best example of resourcefulness, which was essentially the need of the hour. Whatever is and has been cooked in our home kitchens have been exemplary in making the best use of what’s available to suit an entire family’s palate!

The beauty of online connect was formidable. Can you try to imagine, even, a situation like this some years ago? It has indeed been a blessing that we were all able to stay in touch with anyone and everyone who mattered in any way. The year also saw the emergence of many a home chef, youtuber, cloud kitchen and food supply source.

To highlight three aspects in particular, in which the food ecosystem had a fast-forward effect:

  1. Food tech – We fast-forwarded nearly 6 years in those 6 months, where we saw the evolution and best practices adaptation for food (processed and unprocessed) supply. The way technology came to the rescue was amazing.
  2. Success of home chefs - This was another example of Fast forwarding 6 years in 6 months. The ventures that would have launched over a longer period of time for eg, were effected soonest. And their appreciation grew several notches as more and more people reached out for home (like) food.
  3. Cooking at home – The time and survival crunch forced the leisure and weekend chefs to master skills faster and explore their cooking skills with more courage.

The quantum leap these three areas witnessed are here to stay and were long due to expand. Due to Corona, they didn’t just expand, they exploded!

From a chef’s point of view, not only was it easier to share my cooking knowledge with my connections, but also to share experiences and foresight with organisations and brands to help create a mutually sustainable environment.

That leads me to the food event ecosystem. As someone who used to travel often, nearly 75 per cent of the year around the country and the world to share my food knowledge, the virtual space infrastructure was a terrific boon, where we were able to conduct virtual events and in effect, end up reaching out to a far more increased audience than an event in the physical world would have allowed. Of course, nothing beats being there and see it happen, but at least the online connect saw to it that the events space did not come to a halt.

Looking at the brighter side, the past year made us look at and play to our strengths and re-assess what works and what was/were avoidable frill(s).

What also particularly shone through in the pandemic, was the tenacity, flexibility and resilience of our hospitality industry. It was incredible to see how we learnt to adapt for the most part, to the challenging conditions, to keep the food production and supply part of the system going.

And isn’t that the way of life too? When the going gets easy, circumstances push you to turn inwards and explore, nay, challenge yourself and emerge wiser and stronger.

I personally hope we take forward the lessons learnt in the most constructive way possible to help each other get back on our proverbial feet.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '6TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 1'

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