A delectable job worth trying

OFFBEAT CAREERS

GREAT SCOPE The culinary universe is a melting pot and for those with the right aptitude jobs are aplenty.  It’s not without reason that Amitabh Bachchan played a restaurateur in R Balki’s film Cheeni Kum and tasted success.

If films are believed to mirror societal trends, it’s ideal to don the chef’s apron and whet the booming market now. “The sector estimated at US$ 8 billion, is expected to grow at around 10% year-on-year for the next 8-10 years. Within this, almost over 85% is absorbed by the unorganised segment. In the organised segment, big cities have seen greater presence of organised food retail chain, primarily due to more income levels. The scenario is changing as chains like Dominos and McDonalds are trickling down to smaller cities,” said Pratichee Kapoor, Associate Director- Retail, Technopak Advisors Pvt Ltd.

The culinary universe is like a melting pot, with openings in the packaged food industry, test marketing kitchens and food labs. Tourism is a happening sector for hospitality personnel to showcase regional cuisine for tourists seeking experiential tours. Besides working in a cruise, people can become sommeliers and bar tenders. “For those specialising in culinary arts, the prospects on the job is exciting as more and more cutting edge concept F&B outlets with a wide variety of cuisines are opening up in India.

Innovation and quality are getting priority and thereby taking restaurants to very high levels,” added Abhijit Saha, Director and Chef, Caperberry and FAVA, Avant Garde Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

Restaurants create a feel-good factor, and have the ability to transport one into a higher realm. Tables are laid out with fresh linen, fine chinaware and personalised hospitality is thrown in to connect with diners. This unbeatable signature style hospitality attracts people. Like Arvind Chowdhary, a student of information science who took his passion for food seriously. This self described foodie began to frequent ISKCON three years ago because of its delectable culinary concoctions and turned a devotee before joining them. Now as business manager, F&B Department, ISKCON, Chowdhary oversees the restaurant, cake shop and Indian sweets outlets. “When I wanted to make my association with the organisation more deep rooted, I decided to work for its F&B department. It was a challenge since the food is sattvic, and doesn’t contain onion, garlic, eggs and meat. Yet there’s a gentle glow of satisfaction when people are satiated,” he added. And what would life have been had he worked in a firm? “Well, I would be eating some low quality food at the company cafeteria and wondering where I went wrong in life,” he reasoned.

If Chowdhary started out late, youngsters can charter their own course by enrolling for a course. Some colleges that offer these courses in Karnataka include Acharya Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Army Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Christ College of Hotel Management, College of Hotel Management and Indian Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, among others. “Many of the institutions have tie ups with international universities that allow the students an opportunity to study a part of their course abroad or even allow internships abroad giving them a wider exposure and to directly take up an international job,” highlighted Saha.

An entrance exam for Class XII students will lead to a Diploma/Degree in Hotel Management. Other specialised options include a Post Diploma Course in Hotel Management, whereby they can pursue disciplines like Dietetics and Nutrition, Housekeeping, Travel and Tourism, Front Office and Tourism Management and Specialised Hotel Management. There’s also the three-year Culinary Course in Food Production and a four-year Bachelors degree in Hotel Management. “The four year bachelor degree in Hotel Management is perhaps the most comprehensive professional course apart from the engineering and medical fields available to the student today.  A vigorous demanding four-year course has been put together to ensure that candidates fresh out of the course hit the ground running when they join the industry,” added Krishna Shantakumar, general manager, Aswati Group, which owns eclectic restaurants like Ebony and On the Edge.

The juxtaposition of strong accountancy, management and law content over a solid foundation of operational subjects such as food production theory and practice, bakery production theory and practices, food service theory and practices, comprehensive beverage knowledge, aspects of housekeeping and janitorial services, food science and nutrition, foreign languages ensures that student comes out thoroughly prepared for a tough profession. “Forming a backbone to this classroom and practical training, is a six month industrial exposure training that students undergo very early into their course, thus ensuring that they get a taste of the trials and tribulations of the industry,” highlighted Shantakumar.  

Besides formal training, entrepreneurs can try their hand at baked goodies, as home-made chocolates and cakes are in demand. The Institute of Baking and Cake Art in Bangalore, has created a learning space which offers specialised diploma baking courses, chocolate making and home baking courses for individual and commercial baking. “The training modules in most catering colleges tend to focus on practical training. We try to combine theoretical and practical expertise,” said Manish Gaur, Director – Training, Institute of Baking and Cake Art.

Though opportunities are plenty, in a delicious twist of irony, the industry is facing a demand-supply mismatch. “As the industry is flourishing, the demand for skilled, semi-skilled and trained hospitality professionals growing to exponential dimensions, it is believed that all the hospitality managements put together would not be able to meet the demand. There are still many establishments which operate with untrained personnel,” explained Kul Mohan Singh, Vice Principal, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal University.

Youngsters tend to move out because of long working hours and demanding guests. In an effort to attract talent, hotel groups package monthly salaries from Rs 40,000 to Rs 2 lakh, depending on the individual’s experience. However startup salaries rarely exceed Rs 20,000. Besides paypacks, the industry has opened up nouveau and less stressful options like becoming a food historian or doing food styling and photography.

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