Interviews

‘The exposure to different cuisines that travel brings has expanded the culinary preferences of Indians.’

The Claridges, New Delhi recently rolled out a new menu by giving well known classics, a makeover at Pickwicks- the multi-cuisine all day dining restaurant. Executive Chef at The Claridges, New Delhi, Neeraj Tyagi said, “The idea behind the new menu at Pickwicks was to enhance the classic dishes by adding a special twist to each preparation. Hence, every dish on the new menu has a surprise element or ingredient in it and is presented in a unique way. The new menu is also very versatile, offering world cuisine to guests and a great variety to choose from, such as Japanese, Indian, British, Mediterranean, Singaporean and so on.” 

India Hospitality Review took this opportunity to talk to Chef Neeraj Tyagi about his personal favourites, the idea behind the makeover and requested him to share his opinion about the industry and changing behaviours of foodies:

1. As an Executive Chef at
The Claridges, what are your responsibilities?

The Claridges is an iconic property situated in the heart of Lutyens’
Delhi. My responsibilities as its Executive Chef are varied and include developing
and upgrading the cuisine across the hotel and enhancing the guest experience
with culinary delights. This is done by organizing innovative food promotions
and introducing new cooking techniques, whilst maintaining costs and without
compromising on the food quality. I have to ensure that international hygiene
standards pertaining to HACCP which takes care of food and environmental safety
are followed across all F&B outlets. Lastly, I make it a conscientious
effort to motivate and lead my team of 72 chefs and work closely with the expat
Chefs in our signature restaurants – Jade and Sevilla

2.  Share with us your
experience at Pickwicks.

Pickwicks
is a quaint all day dining restaurant at The Claridges New Delhi. With charming
chic décor and large bay windows overlooking The Claridges Garden, it serves an
ideal place to be with friends or family for some personal time. Pickwicks has
a special place in the minds of Delhites and has been popular as one of
Delhi’s best late night eateries. Pickwicks always has a special focus on food
presentation, ingredients and top quality. The history of the restaurant is
linked with classic dishes like sizzlers which are evolved to a modern avatar,
keeping in tune with the changing trends.

3. How long have you been
active in the industry? What according to you has changed the most in the
hospitality industry in these years?

I have worked in the industry for over 10 years and I have been
associated with renowned international names before joining The Claridges,
New Delhi. The hospitality sector is constantly evolving and flourishing making
it one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In recent years there
has been a noticeable change in the expectations of customers. Luxury has
become affordable and now the focus is on exceeding expectations and creating a
WOW moment for the guests. The guests are nowadays not only looking for impeccable service but they are open to
experimenting and trying out new experiences.  

4. Tell us about your
culinary management style.

I strongly believe that you are as good as your
team. Therefore, leveraging adequate freedom to subordinates and belief in team
work are prerequisites to a successful leadership position. It is imperative to
maintain a stress free environment which encourages new talent and helps in
improving creativity. I feel it is important to delegate responsibility and
have an environment of trust and understanding within the team. Everyone has
their own way of approaching things and wherever possible I try and give that
kind of flexibility to my team members.

5. What inspired you to
think of a makeover? What was the idea behind it and did you have a particular
pattern in mind while giving the twist to the dishes?

We take pride in our
menu offerings at Pickwicks. From international fine dining to elaborate
breakfasts in an intimate setting, our aim is to constantly innovate and
improve the guest experience. Therefore, the idea behind the new menu at
Pickwicks was to enhance the classic dishes by adding a special twist to each
preparation. Hence, every dish on the new menu has a surprise element or
ingredient in it and is presented in a unique way. The new menu is also very
versatile, offering world cuisine to guests and a great variety to choose from,
such as Japanese, Indian, British, Mediterranean, Singaporean and so on.

6. Personal Favourites:

Some of my favourites include:

Ingredient: Micro greens, fresh artichokes, imported mushrooms, various
tomatoes like Cour Di Bue, vine tomatoes, roma tomatoes and fresh herbs. 

Cuisine: Mediterranean particularly Spanish as they always use fresh
ingredients.

Dish: Any dish which has style and a sense of innovation is my favourite 

7. Comment on the changing
trends and taste patterns of Indians. Do you think the globe-trotter Indian has
become more demanding in terms of the variety of cuisines?

Nowadays
travelling has become very economical and everyone can afford to travel
overseas. The exposure to different cuisines that travel brings has expanded
the culinary preferences of Indians. Plus, the availability of international
ingredients in Indian market has brought about a change in the existing taste
patterns of Indians. We are now open to new cuisines and like to experiment
with our food. Another noticeable trend is the change in the restaurant culture
which is providing more opportunities for people to dine out, making it a part
of the affordable luxury trend which is sweeping the country. The spending
power has increased and people are taking dining out seriously. 

 

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