Banquets Go Bespoke

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Food in banquets is coming of age as the trend becomes bespoke, high end and all things artisanal.

When Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone announced their wedding one of the things that made news was that the couple had asked the chefs to sign a special bond to ensure that the exclusive dishes made for their wedding would not be made anywhere else. While this might sound over exaggerated for a few, what it has done if that it has firmly put the spotlight back on food especially in the banqueting space.

Kulhar Rajma rice
Kulhar Rajma rice

Doing the New

Banquets had a standard method of functioning for customers a few years ago. However that was in the past. Today there is a complete change being seen with client’s making the demand for bespoke and custom offerings. The entire concept of banqueting has evolved from the non-conventional style, which was a traditional buffet with salads, soups main course and dessert to concept interactive stations. “People have started looking for the dishes which they prefer eating at the fine dining spaces. Now we can see the endless variety of dishes at the banquets which are not in the menu of a fine dine restaurant also. Guests search for innovative dishes that make the staff of banquets to add on some out of the box dishes in their list,” say Rajat and Manik Kapoor, Owners, Gola Ceremonial Banquets. The need for energy-boosting break-out items such as fruit, nuts and yogurt are being added on to seaweed and plant-based snacks, and smoothies made with nut-based milks rather than only dairy. Specifically food that was once the prerogative of fine dining spaces is making its way into banqueting as the food looks much appetizing and fresh. Chefs are playing with flavorful and textures at food stations. Most importantly for niche events guest goes the extra mile, spends more money per cover in banquets than in a la carte restaurants to match up the quality of food and services.

Zucchini Pasta
Zucchini Pasta

Gourmet Choices

Naturally then there is a clear shift towards having a differentiated offering as far as food choices are concerned. Sample this list at Le Jardin the specialty banquet space at Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences -Coconut And Honey Popcorn, Fennel And Parmesan Biscuits, Parmesan Oat Cakes, Togarashi Spiced Murgh Malai Tikka, Peri-Peri Tawa Macchi, Goats Cheese Malai Broccoli, Pulled Jackfruit Taco, Water chestnuts, asparagus wantons and Edamame and smoked corn pan fried dim sum. In fact this is a small list of the whopping 24 concept stations of different kinds of food that can be set up here. Chef Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences says, “digital media, social media and everything has made the world come closer in terms of sharing ideas. Guests are more aware these days of what they want and why they want it. Possibly, some of it has to do with a surge in purchase power and wanting to do and showcase something different or as they say in Hindi hatke. Instagram and Facebook are big influences on this change. Innovation in cuisine has taken a whole new meaning for chefs which are not only a challenge but also inspiring for us because we get to push our limits to try to achieve what seemed impossible in the past.”

Chocolate Brownie
Chocolate Brownie

Health First

The F&B Industry in India is dynamic and ever-changing and the growing needs of consumers and exposure to the global trends, make it imperative for the restaurants to constantly innovate and bring in new ways to keep the customers enticed and keep them retained. The guests are inspiring a shake-up in traditional banquet and catering menus and lifestyle changes are driving healthier options, such as vegetarian, gluten-free and lighter meals. “Nowadays guests have special expectations and highly diverse dining requirements. Moreover, they want to know about the ingredients and produce. These days, catering also focuses more on fresh production from live stations and experiential catering, portion controlled technique aiming to keep food fresh and quality consistent. The need for healthy food and neuro-nutrition is also on the rise giving impetus to the demand of healthy dishes such as wheat & oat based products, Zucchini pasta and other plant-based dishes catering to the demand of health-conscious people,” says Executive Chef Ritesh Negi, Radisson Blu MBD Noida.

Kulhad wali jalebi
Kulhad wali jalebi

Making the Connect

Interactive chef dining is becoming another trend, where diners witness chefs prepare their meals right in front of them. To jazz things up, chefs are including house signature dishes in small portions for greater variety. Aditya Mehta, Co-Founder White Castle Hospitality that operates the Ozora Banquets in Kolkata avers, “live counters, though not a new concept, has caught on like a wild fire in the recent times. A trend that is seen a lot is that main courses on the buffet have been greatly reduced and live counters have edged in. The drama, the interaction that ensues in a live counter is both fun and engaging.” Food after all is all about experiences and interaction just adds to the same. So the next time you are at a banquet, you can experience an explosion of tastes on your palate – be prepared to set off on a gastronomical journey that will satiate your mind and soul.

This story first appeared in The Tribune dated 13th Jan 2019 here:

All  pics courtesy Gola Ceremonial Banquets

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