The Fast Food & Cafe Convention presents a unique opportunity for cafe and restaurant owners across the country to come together for discussions, dialogues and knowledge sharing around new ideas and trends in the industry. It's time to look at what's worked and what's not, to learn how to create value for your customers and how to spot trends before it's too late. This is also a platform to raise a toast to the leaders who will take the QSR and restaurant space in India forward. The Bangalore edition, held on 10th May, 2018 at The Lalit was no different and saw a congregation of industry stalwarts and experts in attendance.
Here's is what some of the delegates had to say:
Kumar Katra, President - Business Development, Mobikon,"Fast Food and Cafe Convention is a great eco-system for industry professionals to gather, exchange ideas and build thought leadership. It was a delight to see senior leaders contributing to build the F&B industry and supporting the young entrepreneurs. The convention has created a platform for all of us to benefit, grow and nurture the industry. I look forward to being at the next convention".
Kunal Yadav, Head - Sales and Marketing, McCain,"It's a focused event and provides an excellent platform to have business discussions with owner operators and key decision makers".
Saurabh Kalra, Director - Restaurant Solutions Group, McDonald's India West & South,"It was an engaging and inspiring conference with cross pollination of ideas and thoughts between industry leaders. A must attend event for all cafe and restaurant employees and owners to push ourselves and think beyond, in order to make the Fast Food & Cafe industry achieve its full potential".
Unnat Varma, Managing Director Indian Subcontinent, Pizza Hut, "It was a great opportunity to meet industry leaders as well as see many innovations at play across food, beverages, tech and services. We have a lot of capability, capital and enthusiasm and the future of the industry looks very bright. Thanks to the organisers!"
One of the interesting features of this day-long event is its 'Breakout Sessions'. These are smaller sessions helmed by experts to help participants gather deeper insight into topics that have no easy answers. Leaders are open to all kinds of questions from interested participants allowing for maximum knowledge sharing. This year's breakout sessions included one by Shrey Aggarwal, founder of The Belgian Waffle Co. Shrey held an insightful session on the pros and cons of going ahead with a franchise model for expansion vis-a-vis a model where you run and own all the outlets yourself as a brand. Recounting his own journey from 20 outlets to now over a 100 plus outlets in the country, he shared how his vision of expansion was most supported by adopting this method. He also shared tips on how to maintain quality and consistency of product across all outlets.
The convention also saw new and interesting brands set up stalls to create awareness about their products. One of them that caught our attention was Bandar Foods - a brand that fully understands our love for chutneys, pickles and preserves. Bandar Foods produces gluten-free, GMO-free, 100% Vegan chutneys and dips which contain no added preservatives. They source their ingredients directly from the farmers in Maharashtra and have recently introduced their products in India after being an export-only brand for several years. Their range of preserves include flavours such as - mint, tamarind, garlic, spicy & sweet mango and Bombay ketchup.
A number of Bangalore based cafe and restaurant owners attended the convention as delegates. We got talking to entrepreneur Chocolatier Chenddyna Schae who runs a relaxed choclate-themed Cafe at Jakkur. The cafe promises delectable home style cooking, in an inviting, calm and relaxed environment. A Master Chocolatier, Chenddyna Schae has trained at prestigious culinary schools across the world from Belgium to Singapore and Melbourne. Jus'Trufs takes its guests through an experiential Chocolate Tour every Saturday where one can learn a few skills like tempering Belgian Chocolate and make truffles for themselves over a fun afternoon with the chocolatiers.
One of the panel discussions held at the venue was around the trending topic of Healthy Eating.
On the panel for this discussion were Ankur Gupta, Director & Co-Founder, Brewberrys Hospitality, Anurag Katriar, Executive Director & CEO, deGustibus Hospitality, Nabhojit Ghosh, VP Culinary and R&D, Swiggy, Rohit Malhotra, Business Head India, Barcelos, Samrat Reddy, Founder & Director, Drunken Monkey and Alok Pandey, COO, Fresh Menu. The panel was moderated by NDTV Food's Tanu Ganguly.
While everyone agreed that Healthy Eating is a trend that is here to stay and will only grow stronger in the days to come, there was also consensus that restaurants need to keep 'taste' at the forefront when deciding on their menu. Nabhojit Ghosh of Swiggy suggested that using good quality ingredients should be done by professional kitchens anyway, that way no matter what the cuisine, style or menu, the food you serve will always be healthy. Anurag Katriar of Degustibus was firmly of the opinion that dining out decisions are still taken largely based on a favourite cuisine or dish. "You don't have a family gather around and say let's go out for a healthy meal tonight". An important point, amplified by the fact that Indians cook and eat fresh food everyday. So when you plan to eat out, you put taste, ambience and budget ahead of 'health'. Samrat Reddy, founder of Drunken Monkey, a chain of fresh-fruit smoothies and juice bars across the country - believes this is the right time for health food brands to put their best foot forward. He keeps the Drunken Monkey menu balanced by adding a few 'indulgent' smoothies too, but has seen a huge rise in the demand for his preservative-free, additive-free, fresh fruit smoothies in the last couple of years.
The Fast Food & Cafe Convention is a great way of coming together for thought leaders to raise a toast to their success stories, and for newbies to learn from their seniors and peers on how to break new ground. Here's wishing all the participants and organisers great success ahead.
Until the next edition, keep enjoying what's on your plate and never miss an opportunity to try out a new flavour!