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Growing importance of Chefs in the Hospitality Business

By Anil Bhandari, Chairman, AB Smart Concepts

Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 14:19 Hrs  [IST]

Chefs are, have been, and will remain the most important persons in the Hospitality industry. Imagine a celebration, wedding, religious function, party, business meeting or conference without their participation. They are the backbone of the Food business. They bring a glow of happiness to our life, ensuring our healthy lifestyle by giving us nutritious food every day.

Not just the Hospitality industry, they have evolved into other areas, with career options such as entrepreneurship and institutional catering with the Indian Railways, cruise liners, flight kitchens, defence services, universities, religious places like Gurdwaras, charity organisations like Akshaya Patra and many more. The Food Preservation and Packaging industry is another vocation.

The job of chefs is very laborious and tedious as they stand for several hours in the kitchen before the gas ranges and ovens.

A chef has many roles to play integrally while keeping his dishes appealing, colourful and tasty. He proceeds scientifically to prepare a nutritious meal along with the knowledge of preserving food and raw stock right. On the other hand, he has to control costs, inventory and finances to ensure profitability of the enterprise.

Today, they have evolved as the biggest innovators in the world as they invent new dishes on an almost hourly-basis. No other business does so much of innovation and as quick as they do.

New dishes and recipes are featured in many daily newspapers and magazines. Cookery shows are major attractions for enthusiasts on our TV programmes every day. Cookery presentations feature on radio shows. A number of recipe books prominently decorate our book shelves and book shops.

The new generation favours eating out, prefers processed, branded and ready-to-eat food. As a result the online food retail market is expanding. About 30% of India’s 1.3 billion population comprises of the middle-class. This segment of society is estimated to grow by 50% in the next five years. With growing disposable income, changing lifestyles, this segment will give a boost to growth in consumption and frequency of eating out. This will provide the F&B business with a major growth trajectory.

The Food & Beverage business was at INR 309,110 crore in 2016 and has grown at 7.7% since 2013. It is projected to grow to INR 498,130 crore at a CAGR of 10% by 2021.

The organised sector accounts for 33% of the total market. With the opening of more outlets and introduction of GST, a percentage of the current 67% unorganised sector will perforce become part of the organised sector.

The restaurant sector created direct employment for 5.8 million people in 2016, contributing INR 22,400 crore as revenue. It will contribute about 2.1% to India’s GDP by 2021.

The Food Preservation and Packaging industry was valued at INR 1,92,000 crore in 2015 and is estimated to be INR 3,25,000 crore by 2017.

Keeping in view all the developments in the industry, more trained chefs will be required. The shortfall of quality manpower makes it all the more necessary to bridge the demand-supply gap of chefs. The government should immediately start culinary institutes in all the States. Even today the institute at Tirupati is in a makeshift state. They should ensure that quality education is imparted by using latest technology and employing the best of faculty, as chefs are the backbone of our lives and of the Hospitality industry.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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