Chef Kayzad Sadri, General Manager (Corporate) - Food and Beverage at Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited, manages the efficiency and effectiveness of the F&B Division of the company across over 58 resorts in India and internationally. He had, previously, worked with The Oberoi Group, Intercontinental, The Leela, etc. He has an eclectic experience in the food and beverage space.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef Kayzad Sadri talks on how new ingredients add to creativity.
Tell us three interesting findings in the restaurant industry in your culinary journey so far.
The first thing that I have learnt is that restaurants that open with a strong back story in mind and stick to their core concept over a long period of time are successful. Today, many restaurants are not sure about the kind of food they want to serve from the very beginning. This leads to a lot of experiments, additions and subtractions in the menu on a regular basis and the majority of restaurants never get the right mix.
The restaurant business is all about getting the small details right, like how comfortable are the chairs, is the air-conditioning set at the right temperature, is the service attentive and personalized and not intrusive and overfriendly, are there enough vegetarian dishes in the menu to excite the diners, etc. The places that get the afore-mentioned small details right, usually become favourites and stick for a long time; rest come and go.
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How would you define your style of cooking?
Cooking is so personal to a chef that there are probably as many cooking styles as there are chefs.
I would say my cooking style involves learning and creating flavours as I go along. I have spent earlier days of my career mastering the basics of Italian, Punjabi, Rajasthani, French and Asian cuisines; I have grown as a chef while experimenting with new and unique flavours. Nothing excites me more than creating a dish whether it is a new recipe that we are testing or cooking a classic. I feed off the heat, noise and general madness of a busy kitchen and that’s what makes me happy.
What is your unique approach to recipe development?
New ingredients are the soul of my cooking, they keep my creativity flowing. For example, when I discovered quinoa almost a decade ago, I developed everything from biryani to porridge to fried “rice”, alluding the delicious tiny off-white grains.
When it comes to recipes, I am the man of details. I am very particular about the weight of each ingredient, the type of chilli or spice to be used, the vessel to be used for cooking, its effect on the dish and so on. I work closely on all these specifics and I believe that when it comes to creating a recipe no detail should be spared.
What are the essentials that need to be taken care of when managing the kitchen of a resort's restaurant?
A resort is different from a typical city hotel in many ways. Ingredient-sourcing is a challenge and availability varies greatly. However, I believe this challenge becomes a boon for our chefs as it allows them to use fresh seasonal produce and give a creative twist to classic recipes.
Also, as we host a record number of children and senior citizens, hygiene and food safety become even more important and freshly-prepared foods take the lead. At Club Mahindra Resorts, we take hygiene very seriously and we follow the latest guidelines issued by FSSAI.
We, recently, received several awards for the first-ever kitchen hygiene survey carried out by the FSSAI authorities and we intend to take this further with most of our resorts becoming complaint with ISO22000 practices.
Brief us about your F&B offerings and the response so far?
At Club Mahindra, our F&B offerings are at the heart of the experience. Food stands at the top of the list of interest for families along with varied experiences.
We have rolled out speciality restaurants like BBqbay- signature barbeque restaurants, Aromi Di Italia- fun and accessible Italian favourites across all our resorts. In Puducherry, we have a coastal cuisine restaurant that serves seafood delicacies, where the count of fish and seafood preparations cross a dozen varieties.
Also, to make our buffets more interesting, we add regional food stations – in this, we pick up a regional ingredient and work on innovative recipes using it and making it the highlight of the day or the week.
At Club Mahindra, member-engagement is what we do, and we want our members to be a part of our kitchen as well. We organize cooking activities where we make a giant pizza or a giant cake using the recipes of our members, which are later served to our guests.
What should be the element of uniqueness in the food menu?
There is no easy answer to this and that’s what makes this business so fulfilling and rewarding.
How do you like to impress your consumers when it comes to food?
I believe taste is always the king when it comes to food. Each recipe is carefully developed with our experienced team of chefs, keeping in mind the food preferences of our members. We want to give our members a taste of the region where they are holidaying.
For instance, while developing menus for our restaurant BbqBay, we have ensured that we strike a balance between strong regional flavours and mouth-watering grills from around the globe.
A surprise element is also something that we try to weave into the dishes, for example, a delicate vegetable kofta will be filled with crunchy chipped nuts and a mix of saffron and spices to deliver crunch and pleasant aroma as one cuts into it.