We caught up with the jury members of the Living Foodz Powerlist Awards 2016.
Our eminent jury members represent various facets of the vast and evolving food universe. Here, they speak of the LF Awards, how it will impact the industry and the future of food.
Karen is a pioneer in the wholefood and lifestyle market space, where she brings a variety of food, brews, cheese, music, wine and grills to nine Indian cities in a hugely popular farmers’ market. She is often called the Gourmet Goddess, and this is in addition to having written extensively on the subject of food and wine for 25 years. She also has a label producing gourmet food products, runs a successful chain of food stores, had a niche catering business, anchored TV shows, started a Gourmet Academy and consults for multinationals and international hotels and restaurant chains entering the Indian market.
The Living Foodz Powerlist Awards… is a great initiative to recognize emerging businesses and local heroes. The food landscape is vast, people are a lot more business savvy and coming up with innovative ideas.
Lessons learnt from organising farmers’ markets… It’s important to curate the market. What we do is not random. We vet and filter all possible vendors and only pick the ones we think fit in. Pick a good location that can attract many customers, tie up with good partners—the right hotel, right winery or juice company—who are reliable. Lastly, always maintain hygiene. Pick a clean and safe environment, take out insurance and have an ambulance at the site.”
Multi-faceted Kunal wears several hats—he’s an actor, director, comedian, TV host and hardcore foodie who has published a cookbook called Made in India. And Kunal knows his food. Ask him about local Indian cuisine or international food and the best haunts in every city, and pat comes his reply every time. His love for food has encouraged him to read more about the history of food as well.
Regional cuisine is getting more attention now. Predominantly, there are two cuisines in India: Punjabi and Chinese. Where’s the Mappila cuisine from Kerala that has Arabic influences? Seventy percent of Tamil Nadu is non-vegetarian but we only know about their Idli and Dosa. Bengali cuisine is now growing in popularity, but mostly in metro cities. No regional cuisine in India has been given its due, but that is fast changing. There is a never-ending array of local cuisines that I am still fascinated with, and I can see that people around me are starting to get interested too.
The role of local heroes. We’ll see initiatives like people opening home kitchens and inviting guests to try their local food at their homes. Even food pop-ups are becoming popular. In recognising these local heroes, the Living Foodz Powerlist Awards is doing pioneering work.
Even if you haven’t eaten at any of these yet, there’s a definite chance that you’ve heard of some of his restaurants: Olive, The Fatty Bao, SodaBottleOpenerWala, Guppy by Ai, Monkey Bar, and many others. Yes, AD Singh is the mind behind these popular and award-winning restaurants and bars, and is one of the leading restaurateurs in India’s F&B space.
The most exciting food trend. It has to be new Indian food. This is really big and most big businesses are doing it very well, representing Indian cuisine in a very smart, and international flavour.
The Future of food. It lies in how the diner is moving from the disorganized to the organized food market, people are eating out more often, more people are eating at branded eateries. The next big change will be how this wave sweeps over the 20 top cities across the country. This will hopefully change a lot of things, from trends in food and new cuisines, to improved hygiene and more awareness among consumers.
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal
Food blogger, writer, stylist, consultant—all rolled into one, Rushina is a foodie at heart. Founder of A Perfect Bite (APB) Cook Studio, Rushina has contributed food-focused content for several reputed publications, and now provides consulting services to companies in the F&B and Horeca sectors.
Food bloggers have democratised the industry. There’s been a huge increase in the number of bloggers in the last decade, each with a different voice. However, some bloggers are irresponsible about the message they give out to their readers, so it’s important to educate yourself on the subject before writing about it. Having said that, it’s great to have so many voices, especially in a country like India where there’s so much diversity that it’s impossible for one blogger to tell each food story that is out there.
The new trend on the block. Bloggers are concentrating on the food from their community and the region they belong to. This way, the reader learns more about a particular regional cuisine or dish from a blogger who indigenously belongs to that place. On the flipside, there is a lot of plagiarism, so we need to recognise that and act against.
Nikhil is a trained wine sommelier who received his degree in London. With close to 20 years of experience in the wine business, he has worked with leading wine and spirit companies from across the world. Closer home, he launched the import division of Sula Vineyards, is the Chief Advisor to Myra Vineyards, and his work involves extensive research, winery setup, bottling and branding, recruitment, marketing and distribution. He has hosted over 2,000 wine events, festivals and training sessions over the last few years.
The emerging trends in the Indian beverage scene. “Craft beers have taken off, and there will be a lot more action in that space. Indian wines are becoming more popular as well, not just in quantity, but also quality. People are beginning to appreciate Indian wines more. Cocktails are also trendy, not just the classic cocktails, but every new restaurant is looking to include an elaborate cocktail menu—superfood cocktails and floral or fruit-infused cocktails are not just a phase. People are now amazed with flavours, whether they get it from cocktails, wines or craft beers. Not to forget, whiskey brands that we took for granted, that has served at an epitome at the mass level, are not being considered premium anymore. People are starting to drink more single malts, and higher-end whiskeys.”