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Restaurant industry can introspect and reinvent during Covid2019: Sanjeev Kapoor

The food industry needs new concepts and thoughts to sustain

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MUMBAI: The restaurant industry, just like any other industry in the country, has suffered huge losses since the Covid2019 outbreak. India’s culinary master and food entrepreneur, Sanjeev Kapoor, in a virtual fireside chat with indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari talks about the spirit of generosity, lessons learnt during Covid2019 and his personal evolution. He also explains how the restaurant industry needs to reinvent itself in order to grow ahead.  

Explaining about his work during the pandemic, Kapoor said, “In Mumbai we have partnered with Taj Group to distribute food to 45,000 people every day and same is the case in Delhi and Bangalore.”

As people will not stop eating food, there is a significant growth in the consumption of digital content where audiences are looking up their favourite chefs to acquire cooking skills. Hence, Kapoor is keeping himself busy looking after his specialised channel Food Food and also creating content for his digital platforms where he is creating content and live shows with the help of his family members who have turned into sound and camera persons.
According to Kapoor, reviving restaurants during this pandemic is very essential. Because people's need to eat is still there. What they will eat or where they eat may change. Which means that skills are still required. He added, “If you want to eat a rumali roti you cannot eat at home.You need skilled people to do that. I have been advising people in the restaurant industry to bring in new concepts, new thoughts to sustain and grow.  Also, this is the time to look at what was going wrong in the industry.”

Kapoor is of the opinion that the fixed cost in the restaurant industry is very high. He notes businesses should look into compensation based on the work being done. They should create work that functions on a variable cost model in order to survive.

The one positive outcome of the pandemic will be a chance for the restaurant business to refurbish itself.

Kapoor feels that the restaurant industry will have to go in for some major modification in the coming future. When the business starts, it is important to let go of outdated business practices and develop new concepts, thoughts and more innovative ways to feed people.

According to Kapoor, the hospitality industry is a very resilient sector, but going forward, will they change their traditional model of doing business? He said, “Meal kits are going to be the next big thing in the industry. We have already started our meal kits. I will include primary ingredients, a recipe card along with a cook along with Alexa, where you scan the QR code and the cook will guide you. It is about changing the model and creating opportunities.”

Kapoor, who closely works with Akshay Patra, serves 18 lakh meals every day. The food is prepared at 50 large kitchens. According to Kapoor, the restaurant industry was not looking at sectors like that as an opportunity. Institutions like Akshay Patra have interns from top universities including Harvard and Stanford whereas top Indian colleges do not even go there. He thinks that a food service solution needs people who understand processes and taste.

He says, “If today you want to eat Thai food at home and if you are vegetarian, you don’t want something with fish oil and shrimp paste. You want an Indian solution for that. There are many such opportunities in the market like I closely work with, such as pharma companies. Has anyone thought if medicine tasted good what miracles it would create? There are nutritional and functional foods which need to be healthy and tasty. So, many companies need that intervention. This is the time for specialists and there are many opportunities. We just have to keep our ears and eyes open. I have always advised people to look beyond the standard option.”

About the options available for a corner-side restaurant, Kapoor said, “They are way better warriors than us. I know many people who are supplying food to a hospital chain. There will be two kinds of people: one who will fight and another who will wait. The ones who are fighting will survive and those who are waiting will also survive but they will need much more time.”

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