Fortune Cookie

Some good news from hospitality sector in the time of gloom

Adversity sometimes brings out the best in talented people. We can see it happening in our neighbourhood.

 |  Fortune Cookie  |  2-minute read |   14-06-2020
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One of the recurring themes of the discussions around Covid-19 has been the sense of doom in the hospitality sector. What was just talk has acquired an intense degree of pathos with news of restaurants shutting down, especially in malls and upmarket locations such as Khan Market, of people in the sector losing jobs, and of the majority of them moving out to their home towns and villages. The hospitality sector has never had it so bad. 

So, when two young hospitality professionals emerge out of the gloom with new projects, they offer some employment, and give some hope to their community.

I’ve known Ankur Chawla, a 26/11 terror attacks survivor, since I met him at the JW Marriott, New Delhi Aerocity, where he had joined as an enthusiastic bar manager and wine sommelier. Since then I’ve seen him rise in the Marriott International corporate hierarchy and then decide to take the entrepreneurial plunge as a beverage consultant. In the past two years, he has consulted with an upscale vodka brand and a tonic water, trained scores of young bartenders, and prepared beverage menus for five-star hotels and restaurants.

Now, he has launched Responsible Whatr, an innovatively named brand of packaged natural spring water (or ‘beverage’, from Solan, for the first time, in aluminium cans. Aluminium cans don’t normally end up in landfills as they can be recycled endlessly (and Chawla plans to put a system that would enable the manufacturer of these cans to pick up the used ones and recycle them). From a consumer’s point of view, the water tastes as natural as possible, without the taste of plastic or PET. Whatr, I believe, is the future of packaged water.

Vikramjit Roy is one of India’s finest chefs and his interpretation of Pan Asian cuisine has one won him many awards from his days at ITC Hotels to his stint at Ashish Dev Kapur and Joy Singh’s Whisky Samba and Kimono Club. He and his long-time colleague, Anurodh Samal — again, a talented young manager – have invested their life’s savings into a ‘cloud kitchen’, a business model that has survived and grown in these uncertain times, and named it Hello Panda.

For Roy and Samal, who are most comfortable in the world of fine dining, this must be like a major leap of faith, but they have made some intelligent moves even before their official launch. Their kitchen at Sector 57, Gurugram, is completely seethrough, and their website live streams what happens inside it so that their patrons know exactly how hygienically their food has been made. Adversity sometimes brings out the best in talented people. We can see it happening in our neighbourhood.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Covid-19 needs a better discourse


Sourish Bhattacharyya Sourish Bhattacharyya @sourishb1963

The writer is a columnist for Mail Today, blogger at Indian Restaurant Spy and a founder member of the Delhi Gourmet Club.

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