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Chef Rahul Kaushik Corporate Chef, Foodlink Banquets & Catering

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 09:58 Hrs  [IST]

Last Indian wedding season witnessed few high-profile weddings of celebrities of the tinsel world as well as big names from the business and industry world. Deepika – Ranveer Wedding was one of the most talked about affair in the film world, while the Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal wedding made headlines for its highest wedding extravaganza. Not to be left behind is the high-profile wedding of Naivedya Agarwal, son of Vedanta Chairman, Navin Agarwal. While all these events happened at different dates, places and under different settings, the unifying factor behind all of them was the food. The food at all these celebrity events was curated by India’s largest banqueting company, Foodlink Banquets & Catering Pvt Ltd. Behind Foodlink Banquets’ success story is team of experienced culinarians under the leadership of Chef Rahul Kaushik, the Corporate Chef. Hospitality Biz spoke to Chef Kaushik to understand the challenges of curating celebrity banquets

Q How different is cooking in a fine dining kitchen from a celebrity banqueting event?
There are a lot of differences. Firstly, fine dining menus are usually fixed. Predefined ingredients, Equipment and Professional chefs with Trained Serving staff are all available at your disposal. However, for Celebrity Banqueting, you need to start from scratch. We first need to close the menu based on the guest’s preferences and then choose the right kind of equipment for set-up. Staff needs to be trained as well for such events.

Secondly, fine dining is for limited people where they may or may not come at the same time. But in the case of celebrity banqueting, the number of guests is quite high and all of them usually come at one go for dinner.

Thirdly, in fine dining, normally one type of cuisine is served whereas in celebrity banqueting, specialty food of different cuisines is served.

Q What is the kind of preparation that goes into menu finalisation, procurement, identifying right team of cooks etc.? What are the key challenges associated with it?
Firstly, guest preferences are evaluated. Accordingly, the cuisine is selected and finalised. Depending on the cuisine to be served, the materials are procured and the team is selected. In case the cuisine or dishes selected do not fall into our existing capability, Chefs are sent for training. After the team is finalised, they are trained to deliver a precisely choreographed service for the event.

Key Challenges:
  • 1) Timeframe – This is a critical challenge. Often the time frames between different functions are short or the entire event has to be executed at short notice. Everything has to be planned systematically to deliver flawless service.
  • 2) Last minute menu finalisation.
  • 3) Availability of foreign ingredients for special dishes.
  • 4) Availability of speciality chefs for each cuisine.
  • 5) Procuring desired equipment.

Q How much freedom the Chefs get in the finalisation of theme, cuisines, etc. for the celebrity dinners?
We offer suggestions depending on the guest preferences and customise according to their requirements. Freedom depends on the choice/preference of the guests. Once the concept is finalised and any special preferences stated, we use our creative inputs to create the dishes.

Q Generally, in celebrity events, especially weddings, etc., chefs are asked to work on diverse themes for different occasions with a small turnaround time. How do you tackle such challenges?
Everything is planned systematically. Once the entire event flow is understood, the teams are briefed and trained to deliver with perfection. For example, if the turnaround time between functions is less, we divide our people into two teams in charge of different functions to execute it smoothly.

With two decades of catering experience, our leadership teams are well equipped to execute events at every scale.

Q Do you have experiences of going out of the way to understand the nuances of any specialty dish before preparing it at a celebrity event? How does networking and camaraderie come in handy in such case?
We constantly strive to reinvent ourselves according to the existing trends and guest preferences. While we have speciality chefs in our chain of restaurants and banquets, if a guest requests a cuisine or dish that is not in our domain, we are sent on special training programs to develop the required skills. We also collaborate with other Chefs in different parts of the globe and learn from their inputs and experience.

Q Could you share some of the celebrity events you handled recently and your experiences? Do you have any special/memorable instance from any such event you handled?
We have been the preferred caterer of choice for celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Ambani family, Bachchan family, Shilpa Shetty etc. Due to our non-disclosure agreements, we can’t divulge details but it gives us great pleasure to deliver a memorable gourmet experience at celebrity events. The fact that our high-profile clients trust us and speak about us highly to their guests is a testament to our commitment towards great food and superlative service.

A memorable instance from a recent celebrity wedding was when our team was called on stage and appreciated in front of the guests. It meant a lot to us and was definitely a moment of pride for Foodlink.

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