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On International Chef Day, ICF appeals F&B industry to contain Food Wastage

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 12:18 Hrs  [IST]

The Chef Community in North India under the aegis of the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF) celebrated the International Chef Day with Chef Summit and Chef Awards at Le Meridien New Delhi. In its 16th annual edition, Annual Chef Awards recognised culinarians for their contributions to the food and beverage industry. Hospitality Biz as a media partner for the annual event captured the highlights of the day-long celebration of Chef Day.

Except for a new venue, Le Meridien New Delhi, the Annual Chef Awards being organised in the National Capital by Indian Culinary Forum(ICF) followed the same format and pattern even in the 16th annual essay. For the seventh year, the organisers dedicated the morning hours for knowledge seminar – Chef Summit, before proceeding to the annual celebration of International Chef Day and Chef Awards.

The seventh annual Chef Summit deliberated on the topic – The Future of Banqueting: F&B Economics, and Sustainability – with a heavy focus on ways to tackle food wastage at banquets. The issue was first raised by Anil Bhandari, Chairman of the ICF Annual Chef Awards during his initial address. While banqueting is a celebration in itself, and customers are ready to pay any amount of money to make such celebrations experiential in every way possible, wastage of food at such events are a major concern. He said that while millions starve for food, wastage of food is unpardonable. From a business standpoint, banqueting is a business that gives a faster return on investment and helps create excellent brand value. However, people associated with the industry should strive to sell new ideas and themes to customers, Bhandari said.

Participating in a panel discussion on 'F&B Opportunities and Challenges in Banqueting'. Sanjay Khullar, Vice Chairman, Seasons Catering Services also spoke on the huge wastage of food that happens at banqueting events because of lack of professionalism and planning. Most of the outdoor caterers are not professionals. Wastage is a major issue; hygiene standards are pathetic. He said that the caterers should go back to basics and stick to basic food and present it in a hygienic and sustainable way.

Neelam Bhardwaj, Co-founder of Zorba said that they engage the clients deeply and explain them everything and stick to the deliverables. Curation, she said, is quite important in banqueting and which helps in reducing wastage a lot, she added.

Moderating a session on 'Managing the Economics of Banqueting', Naveen Jain, Founder of Nouvelle Consulting also pondered ways to build efficiencies into the business of banqueting. He said that banqueting is quite critical for hotels and it is a vital revenue source which contributes 15 to 30% of the topline. In large hotels more than 50% of the F&B revenue comes from banquets, he said and therefore needed to be managed efficiently.

Cautioning the mainstream hotels, Vineet Wadhwa, Founder of Fio and also an outdoor caterer, said that while independent caterers used to copy hotels earlier, today hotels follow professional caterers for new concepts. He said that days are not far away when hotels invite caterers to manage their banquets.

Earlier, in his keynote as the Chief Guest, Tarun Thakral, Executive Director of Le Meridien New Delhi cautioned Chefs to be prepared for the rapid advancement in technology-driven by huge investment that is going into Artificial Intelligence globally. He said that the time is not far when Robots replace chefs in the kitchens. Because of the technological changes sweeping the world, he said that short-term planning makes a lot of sense rather than planning long term.

Devinder Kumar, President, ICF in his welcome speech said that banqueting is the backbone of the hospitality sector and it is essential that the men and women behind the action should be empowered to see what the future of banqueting holds so that they can upgrade their skills accordingly.

Chief Guest at the Annual Chef Awards, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog underscored the vital role F&B segment has to play to make India a $5 trillion economy because of its big multiplier effect. Lauding the creativity and imagination of Indian Chefs, Kant said that with their innovation and creativity Indian chefs have already conquered the hearts of people not only in India but also across the world. While new fads of gastronomy come and go, Indian cuisines will continue to charm the world, he said. He urged Indian chefs to try and bring regional cuisines to the forefront and also try to rediscover the heritage foods of India.

Kant presented the Culinary Excellence Awards to senior chefs and winners of the trade test organised as part of the International Chefs Day. Chef Sushil Chugh, Senior Chef and the General Manager of Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Sahibabad was decorated with the 'Life Time Achievement' Award. The 'Golden Hat Chef Award' was presented to Chef Machindra U Kasture, Executive Chef of The Ashok Hotel of ITDC. Chef Sanjay Aggarwal and Chef Vivek Saggar were presented with 'Silver Hat Chef' awards. The best Lady Chef of the Year award went to Chef Rekha Sharma, Faculty of Vedatya Institute of Hotel Management. Chef Ranojit Kundu, Faculty of BCIHMCT Delhi was awarded Best Pastry Chef of the Year. Special Jury Awards for Excellence in Culinary Art and outstanding contributions in promoting Indian cuisines globally was presented to Chef Vikas Khanna. Winners medals for trade tests in different categories were also presented on the occasion.

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