Health-conscious consumers are increasing at a rapid pace in India. This in return is accelerating the need for conscious/sustainable restaurants. Especially in metros, new restaurants and cafes are coming up with the entire healthy menu and the existing ones are launching additional menus keeping in mind the healthy food takers. According to reports, the number of health-conscious consumers in India will increase from 108 million in the calendar year 2020 to 176 million in 2026.
Gurgaon-based restaurant Fig, recently found its second spot in Delhi at Malcha Marg. Fig revolves around the philosophy of healthy and conscious dining. We recently spoke to Chef Manish Aggarwal, who is the executive chef at Fig who spoke about his views on conscious dining. “Conscious dining boils down to meeting the needs of users and fulfilling their commitment to health. We are keen to promote local ingredients and create a long-lasting impact through food. The eco-system around Delhi NCR is seeing transformation with the community of like-minded producers becoming active in recent years. Our job as restaurants is to promote their products to ensure they carry the momentum,” he started.
He feels that with new ingredients, one can innovate around the classic recipes. Information is also important to promote the concept in Fig. The team believe in transparency and share details about farms and growers, letting the diners know what they are eating while they are eating it.
Fig as a conscious and health-focused brand has an audience that is evolved and educated. The team has been witnessing few trends prevailing since the launch of Gurgaon outlet in 2019. Sharing few trends, Aggarwal commented, “consumers are open to experimenting with healthy dishes as a result of lifestyle changes. Fermentation and probiotics are very popular trends currently. People have more global exposure, therefore, it is not very challenging to promote international menu selections. Lastly, users know when to indulge and how far to go in the process. Sharing desserts is a very common practice at our cafes”.
Fig has partnerships in place that ensure that they have a detailed insight into what they are buying, how it is grown or procured, and who all benefit through the supply chain. Raw materials such as salad leaves, meats, and coffee can be traced back to farmers or breeders. Sustainable procurement is also important for Fig to ensure product provides with a cutting edge over the competition.
“Our menu engineering ensures we use limited ingredients across categories to avoid wastage. Also, we build flexibility in our dish composition to allow for seasonal changes without changing the essence of the dish,” Aggarwal further commented.
To ensure optimal kitchen efficiency, kitchens at Fig are efficient because of designated people within the team to ensure sourcing and production are well accounted for. Aggarwal informed that the recipes are also highly integrated into their inventory system. “A lot of produce is fresh and sourced daily, so we avoid overstocking. Personally, I like to delegate and let my team run the operations. It is okay to make mistakes but learning from them is important. We go by data and see where the process is lacking,” he shared.
Having a vast experience with a hotel kitchen, Aggarwal feels that kitchens in hotels have the right hands-on environment necessary to learn in the early parts of the culinary career. However, the scale of operations is something one will not experience elsewhere. “Restaurant kitchens are more experience based with a lot of freedom in choosing the ingredients and shuffling the menu,” he said.
Throwing some light on the expansion plan, Aggarwal stated that the team at Fig is looking at more cafes in the coming years. Currently enjoying being part of the expansion, Aggarwal expressed that Delhi location has been challenging since they are experiencing a very different audience for the first time. “It is an exciting period for me personally to lead the brand,” he said.