Fine-dining was always associated with high-end restaurants, exotic meals, overwhelming ambience, and of course the top-notch service until the pandemic changed the perceptions of many. With virus fear and people getting too sceptical about stepping out of their houses, many restaurants and hotels introduced various services which were never thought of before. Fine dining outlets and chefs across the country in order to up their game, came up with creating ways to bring dining out experience at home with not just sumptuous meals, but even butlers and the right crockery in tow.
With things getting back to normalcy, do we see at-home chef services as a pertaining concept? Sanjay Vazirani, CMD at Foodlink Services India feels that the trend will continue and may become a small vertical for catering companies and some restaurants. “There is a different kind of joy in hosting intimate gatherings at the comfort of your home. Moreover, with distances and growing traffic in cities, it makes sense for the clients to spend quality time entertaining and socialising at their homes,” he added.
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Vazirani informed that the concept is getting more popular in cities like Ahmedabad and Jaipur where people have big residences. Vazirani-led Foodlink Services India Pvt Ltd. has introduced a chef-at-home service during the lockdown, providing a live, quick and interactive format called Live Kitchen by China Bistro.
Today the concept is narrated as Chef@Home and Foodlink Boutique providing tailor-made gastronomical experiences for intimate gatherings.
Banking on the new trend, Seasons Catering has also introduced a new brand, Happy Belly. “Eating at home has now become the habit of people especially after the pandemic; people now prefer home parties and dining at home where they get the same facilities like restaurants, lesser restrictions and pocket-friendly experience. We had already seen this concept go trend,” said Sanjay Khullar, Vice President, Seasons Catering.
According to a recent study by Deloitte, convenience is the new king while studying the food consumption pattern. It is not just how much consumers spend that has changed but people now look for more convenient options than ever before. The total expenditure on food is now directly linked to how conveniently the consumer can have it. This surely fuels the at-home chef services with people reaching their marginal utility point more easily.
During the lockdown days, Chef-at-home service was welcomed by many hotel chains in India and had witnessed a positive response. Hospitality chains like The Park, Marriott Hotels and IHG embraced the idea by sending chefs and their team to guest’s homes with proper safety and sanitisation. While few hotels are now not continuing with the service, few are still seeing it as a great option ahead.
Talking about the same, Ullas Arora, Food and Beverage Manager at Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida added that when guests were hesitant to come to hotels, the hotel initiated the concept of At-Home Dining. “The restaurant-style food is served at the comfort of their homes, we take care of everything right from table setting to serving food the same way it is served at a restaurant,” he added.
As India has already switched to unlock mode, people are still playing a game of wait and watch due to various reasons making the At-home dining concept an ongoing trend.
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However, for making it a long-prevailing concept, safety should come first, for guests as well as the team. Adding more to it, Arora commented,” I feel the advantage is that the team of servers and chefs is coming from a controlled environment wherein all necessary procedures and guidelines are followed as laid down by the government, so the guest doesn’t have to worry about the hygienic aspects.”
Hence, we can say that the concept is here to stay, even though there are people talking that the pandemic is moving towards an endemic stage, but the guests have realized that this experience is far better as compared to visiting hotels especially when one can avoid spending time in traffic, moreover getting a 5-Star experience at the comfort of home.