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Khao aur Khilao: The Story of the Indian Catering Industry

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Soumya Venugopal:

Long back, communicative integration was lacking in the Indian subcontinent. People of different regions had very little contact. Regional diversity in terms of food, clothing, culture and lifestyle acted as a separating factor for the people of India giving birth to regionalism.

When it comes to food, Punjab was famous for its rich and mouth-watering delicacies. South Indian dishes were popular for their flavors. The North Eastern region was known for its huge variety of delicious cuisines. Thanks to the widespread communication network across the country and the recent boom in catering and hotel industry in India, cuisines are no longer confined to their own regions but have overlapped and influenced each other. Indian catering is an umbrella name for so many different types of cuisines. People living anywhere in our subcontinent can now have the scrumptious cuisines of any other region from the chain of restaurants flourishing all over the country. The catering industry basically comprises of establishments primarily engaged in providing single event-based food services. These establishments generally have equipment and vehicles to transport meals and snacks to events and/or prepare food at an off-premise site. Banquet halls with catering staff are included in this industry.

Over the last decade the catering industry has gained momentum with the establishment of a number of Hotel Management and Catering institutes. According to the recent estimate more than two-million restaurants are now dominating the present scenario of the Indian catering industry. The Indian catering industry has now become an important factor for the success of any social event. We Indians love our food and yes take it very seriously. Food is the most important thing that makes any show a success and good food is always appreciated. In the wake of the nature of business, the catering industry has largely remained unaffected by the economic slowdown and has, in fact, maintained a 15-20% growth rate year-on-year. The only change this industry has witnessed after the advent of the economic slowdown is customers trimming their guest list or cutting the menu prices to save cost. Earlier, family members used to take care of catering services during any social event. The trend has changed in the last five years. People tend to avail catering services for their social functions, especially in marriages, so that everyone can enjoy the event. With this the restaurant and catering service jobs have become very popular among the educated Indian youths. In recent time, the flourishing IT, ITES and real estate sector in India have contributed significantly in increasing the income level of the Indian middle-income class. Dining in restaurants on weekends and other holidays, with family members and friends, has become a very popular concept in urban India. To meet the ever-increasing demand for new cuisines, the catering industry in India is becoming more prominent day by day.

Catering is not just about appealing to the taste-buds of the individual but also to the other four senses of the human beings. And being Indians we enjoy our food more than anyone else and that’s mainly because we use our hands to eat rather than the sophisticated forks, spoons and knives. One interesting fact here is that using hands while eating makes you involve all your senses and that just enhances the whole eating experience. Coming back to the catering industry with the right atmosphere, it is possible to appeal to all of these senses making the occasion unforgettable. Of course, beautifully prepared food can alone do this, but now days, caterers want to reach out to the customers in all possible ways and bowl them over.

The menu, the venue and the décor are certain areas, which the caterers aim to cover for an all round win. Catering seems pretty straightforward and simple: You cook some food and serve it, right? That is the basic idea, but there’s more to it. A whole lot more…

What’s “In” in the World of Catering?

In a world where history repeats itself, everything old is brand new again, and the fad today is old tomorrow, how do they really keep up? Well, this is the difference between the catering industry and restaurant industry. The restaurant industry may stay without the need for any change but the caterers cannot. Caterers must always have the flair and style while doing it on a grand scale.

To start with, the vision of a client is always a top consideration for any caterer. Often times, they are given certain parameters to follow and execute their plans. This is the reason why the possibilities of any caterer are endless. But what is really new and exciting in the catering industry? What should you look forward to upcoming events? Read on and know what should excite you.

1. FOOD

Indians have this inherent passion for good food. And with more and more exposure to the continental foods, Indians like to have an exotic touch to their meals. A five course meal which starts with a soup and ends with a dessert is quite common these days. A seven course meal which starts with a drink and ends with coffee/cheese is gaining a lot of popularity. The concept of fusion food is here to stay! People like to taste something that has the right blend of both Indian and western. In fact, a really popular way of presenting these classic courses is through a delectable menu with many different small courses to give a leaner, cleaner look, paired with wines appropriate for the course. Also on the rise in the catering industry are mixed-culture weddings, requesting a blend of two types of cuisine which features elements of two cultures with spectacular effect.

2. PRESENTATION AND DÉCOR

If pictures are worth a thousand words, presentations are worth everything, especially for caterers. You can have the most delicious food in the world; however, if it is not presented with style and panache, then the appeal can be lost in no time. With this premise, the entire event you planned for a long time hinges. The trend in presentation and decor is actually veering sharply towards a lean, clean look.

Its overwhelming to see the Indian catering industry change and re-invent themselves with the changing trends. Its definitely a business but something that is not fully commercialized. The warmth, the home-like feeling along with the food would be the U.S.P’s of this area. Long live Indian food and long live the Indian catering industry!

You must be to comment.
  1. dialus

    It is one of the great article ever.Thank you for this post.

  2. Khyathi Sha

    great inspiring article. thanks for the information

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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