‘Kitchen is not just a place to cook, but also a place to exchange ideas, entertain and engage guests’ 

Vikas-Singh_Executive_Chef-The_Westin_Mumbai_Garden_City-HBI

Vikas Singh, who has recently joined The Westin Mumbai Garden City as the Executive
Chef thinks that as a chef, one always has to push the borders and try innovative and
progressive dishes to be proficient with the evolving trends in order to improve the guests’
dining experiences. According to Singh, evolving culinary crafts can now be showcased
artistically in the form of live kitchens and theatrics while cooking. Asmita
Mukherjee spoke with Singh to know his plans for the hotel’s culinary department.

Vikas_Signh_HBI
Could you please tell us more about your restaurant brands and what their specialities
are?

The Westin as a brand is ‘wellness-focused’ and this ideology forms the key pillar of all our
restaurants at The Westin Mumbai Garden City. The ‘eat well’ factor is well reflected in all
our culinary outlets.

Kangan, a fine-dine regal restaurant, showcases the symphony of rustic Indian flavours from
the North-West Frontier region of Peshawar and Awadh in an exquisite ornate ambience
bejewelled with sublime views of the city.

Seasonal Tastes is an all-day restaurant where one can indulge in expansive buffets, a fine
mélange of regional and global fare, along with a special dedicated ‘eat-well’ menu.

Prego is a speciality restaurant showcasing the most authentic and finest handcrafted Italian
cuisine perfectly paired with premium wines, in a warm welcoming ambience.

Apart from these 3 iconic outlets, we also have Eighteen The Lounge, befitting to unwind
with crafted cocktails and light bar bites. Pronto is a café cum boulangerie where one can
make a quick stop to savour artisanal sips and delectable patisserie goodies.

What is your vision for the future of The Westin Mumbai Garden City in terms of
food? How do you want to take things forward?

Our brand vision revolves around the core belief of ‘wellness’ and this lays the foundation of
our culinary curation as well. We focus on crafting and serving traditional food philosophy in
a fun, contemporary format. Bearing in mind the evolving culinary scene and consumer
palate, we adapt to newness and freshness while retaining the originality. We are mindful of
their flavour and health needs and want to deliver not just food, but an epicurean experience
that is engaging and memorable in every way.

Why do you think the visual aspect in F&B business is so important?

It’s a known fact that we eat with our eyes first. The visual appeal is perhaps the primary
impression before the actual tasting experience of the food. The presentation strikes the right
chord with the sensory thoughts leading to better taste perception. Hence, so much effort is
now given to the art of plating to make it intriguing and enticing for the consumer.

How do you see innovation in the food industry? What do you bring to the table in
order to innovate?

In today’s day and age, we are constantly looking to find healthy and nutritious offerings that
are not just appetizing and exciting but also sustainable. Healthier alternatives like mock
meat, tempeh, koji, and so on are being experimented with to give better food innovation. We
are coming up with novel ways to suit the evolving needs and play with elements and
techniques.

As chefs, we always have to push the boundaries and try innovative and progressive dishes to
be proficient with the evolving trends and continuously improve guests’ dining experiences.
Conceptualizing a menu, maintaining quality standards, revamping skills and the sheer
passion to keep learning have always been the focus. I strive to mould my team in the same
way and pass on my torch to them in terms of culinary vision.

What changes in the new normal are you observing in terms of consumer mindset while
ordering food?

Every day we wake up to new information and try to adapt while also catering to consumer
needs. The shift that I’ve observed in the new normal is how health-conscious the consumer
has become and now gives importance to a holistic way of living. Everyone has that
awareness now that one needs to invest in their health, and this mindset is also reflected while
they order their food. A sense of enquiry has seeped into their minds wherein they want to
know what they eat, where it comes from, its nutritional factors, and so on. Since the Westin
brand already focuses on its core pillar of ‘wellness’, we have merely intensified this message
through our menu offerings.

Where do you see kitchens evolve in the next five years?

The evolving kitchen trends have also emerged because now it’s a belief that the kitchen is
not just a place to cook, but also a place to exchange ideas, entertain and engage guests. The
technological innovations have standardized the process leading to quality monitoring. The
culinary craft can now be showcased artistically in the form of live kitchens and theatrics
while cooking, thus giving the diner a thorough sensory and immersive experience. The
kitchen now becomes the stage, the chef becomes the artist and your plate becomes his art!

asmita.mukherjee@saffronsynergies.in

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