An expert in the world of International cuisine, Chef Mayank brings with him a noteworthy experience of over a decade of wining and dining the elite across the country. Known for combining modern culinary techniques with classic cooking, Chef Mayank has mastered the dining techniques from his exprerience with many renowned chefs such as chef owner Antonio Carluccio, Rahul Akerkar etc. He believes in experimenting with new flavours making cooking more than just a vocation. Excerpts from the interview:
What are the innovations happening at PVR in terms of food?
At PVR, we are continuously trying to re-invent ourselves from where we had evolved 20 years ago. It’s a journey of revolution for us. It’s all about what the clients want and how we can keep our customers engaged. We want to create our own F&B auction, working without external vendors. That’s why we have our own specialised team executing the menu. Earlier, people used to eat and come for the movies or head straight to the restaurant or home for dinner after the movie is over. Now, we are trying to create an environment to our cinema patrons where they can relax knowing they will get food options ranging in various cuisines which are more elaborate and which can meet up to their need.
How did it all begin?
We started off with pizzas and pastas to gourmet sandwiches and burgers. It was only two years ago that we wanted to bring Japanese specialized cuisines forward. Now we are working on creating options like meal bowl, rice meal bowl and healthy items like salads. Japanese rice and noodles bowl is another innovation that we have worked on. We wanted to do something unique keeping the customers demand and taste in mind. Moving forward, we have thought of creating some other food options internally starting from healthy cuisines and shakes to Indian street food options. Another idea that we are looking to take forward is the popcorn bar option where we will be delivering eight different kinds of popcorns which will be sweet and savory respectively.
What was the whole idea of moving to a stand-alone location?
The whole idea is to basically tell our clients about the quality that we serve. We wanted to tell them that their food is prepared by the best chef and with the best produce. We wanted them to try the product without being in that cinema environment to understand the food quality that they are being served concentrating on the product. We want our customers to decide whether the product is something that they prefer or it’s the quality that they like with the menu suiting the environment. The entire perception of F&B at cinemas need to change and this is what we are trying to do. Good quality of food can come at a certain price even at the cinemas. That is why, I personally believe the price and quality of sushi that we offer at Select City Walk stand alone kiosk is probably the best in India right now.
How are you creating experiences at cinema dining?
We have seen a phenomenal growth because of the quality and service that we provide to our customers. The technique and training of the team members is equally important. Initially the entire focus was on the final presentation by the chefs and team members. So, I took a couple of steps where I told them about the techniques while preparing the food like heating your pan to a certain temperature to controlling the heat in the pan.
How are you trying to encash the niche customers who are willing to try Japanese and Korean cuisines?
I personally acknowledge the patrons who show such immense interest towards these cuisines. There is a lot of culture and character that these cuisines have. Unlike the contemporary approach, when it comes to serving traditional sushi the balance has to be well maintained. The sweetness and tmperature of the sushi rice at which sushi should be made and the ingredients to the pickling of the vegetables has to be prevalent. With increasing number of tours, the people are getting more attracted towards these cuisines.
What is so unique about your sushi in comparison to the other Japanese restaurants?
It is very important to hold the sanctity of the cuisines. Chef Saito comes from Tokyo who is cooking for the last four decades. He is as authentic as things can get. There is a clear difference in his style of making sushi as compared to other chefs and that's what we have introduced at our cinemas. He is so dedicated to the art of sushi making that it’s all inspiring. He’s like a master in making sushi permeated with enthusiasm and great techniques.
How is the menu designed and from where do you get the ingredients for your products?
I have a supplier in Tokyo from whom we buy the ingredients. We were looking for vendors and were not satisfied by the ingredients we were getting. So we came across this person named Masaki who has his own hamachi and kampachi farm. I have another friend of mine who only deals in Atlantic Salmons and is based in London. He sends the consignments here to us.
What is the average footfall that you get at your restaurant and who is your ideal customer?
The average footfall that we get is between 70-80 customers who are doing the transaction and about 20-30 customers who are enquiring and researching the product.
What trends do you see happening in the Indian food market in the next two years?
There is a lot of emphasis on the quality of food and beverages and the techniques involved in preparing the product. People have started using the right techniques for their products.