Grilled to perfection

Grilled to perfection
According to the India Food Services report 2016, Indians no longer need a special reason or occasion to eat out. A simple shopping or casual outing is all they need to binge on restaurant food. Needless to say, food is always on our minds! In fact, the restaurant industry has been showing 15-20% growth every year since 2013 and is projected to touch the five-crore mark in 2021 in terms of money.

Tapping into this frenzy is FOX Life’s new show, Grilled, a reality series that will provide a platform for aspiring food entrepreneurs to realise their restaurant dreams! This 10-part series will follow the journey of 12 contestants as they take on different challenges and shape their own business idea.

And the judges who will be ‘grilling’ these home cooks, food amateurs and budding food entrepreneurs are F&B tycoon Riyaaz Amlani, food enthusiast Vishal Dadlani and Australian chef Sarah Todd. Together, they will judge them on various aspects of running a successful food business and decide on the winner of the dream prize of Rs 1.5 crore.

In conversation with Sunday Herald, the trio share more insights into the reality show and their experiences. Here are the excerpts:

Tell us about the show...
Riyaaz Amlani (RA): The show is about people who aspire to open their own restaurant. They have come on the show with just an idea, and throughout the 10 episodes, we grill them on various aspects of this challenge. So, it’s a highly nuanced show touching upon all the aspects that make a successful restaurant.

Sarah Todd (ST): Grilled builds on the trend of entrepreneurship. Everyone dreams of opening their own restaurant or cafe, but generally don’t succeed due to the lack of mentorship and/or funding. It’s a one-of-its-kind platform that not only aims to invest in the business of an aspiring entrepreneur, but also mentors them to be successful in their venture.

Vishal Dadlani (VD): You think it’s a good platform for food enthusiasts, but it’s not a home-chef show. It’s a show for restaurateurs. Come to Grilled without a solid business plan, and no matter how good your food is, you won’t make it.

How do you think you can contribute to the show?
VD: Sexiness apart, you mean? I love food and restaurants, and I’ve even invested in a few (with no success, sadly!), but I think I’ve learned something worth sharing along the way. Also, most importantly, it’s great to watch young entrepreneurs follow their dreams, and help them along if one can.

ST: Having run my very own restaurant ‘Antares’ in Goa for the past three years now, I have a lot of invaluable industry knowledge, both from the entrepreneurial background and also from a contestant’s background.

RA: I will be able to share the benefit of my experience and my learnings over the last 18 years of doing the restaurant business in India. I hope to add value to the dreams and aspirations of the contestants.

What will be the criteria to judge the contestants?
ST: Determination – because it’s not just about the idea you have, it’s about your inner strength to get up and do better in the face of challenges.

VD: It goes without saying that flavour and presentability are crucial, but first and foremost, the viability of their business plans will come into play. It’s got to be a viable business.

What do you think about the restaurant scene in India?
ST: I think it is thriving. Consumers have high expectations and are well-travelled. So, I think, the restaurants in India need to constantly evolve.

RA: The food business in India is definitely at a level that’s not been before. While I still think we are just scratching the surface, it is only going to grow higher and higher. This is just the beginning.

What’s the secret to creating a successful restaurant?
RA: It starts with a good idea and then great execution. You have to be very tenacious, hard-working, bright, sociable, passionate, have a great understanding of sociopolitical climate to understand what’s going on in the world of pop-art. And you should be able to connect all these things to create a great experience.

What restaurants in India have impressed you the most?
VD: I love everything that Riyaaz does. He seems to get exactly what a customer like me wants from a restaurant. I’m really big on the whole Social chain. Sarah’s Antares in Goa is pretty incredible too.

ST: Whisky Samba is on top of my list right now as they have married all the right elements to create magic.

RA: I am a big fan of Bombay Canteen. I am a big fan of Brittania too, just for its sheer longevity and how delicious the food is.

What would be your advice to the contestants on the show?
ST: As difficult as the restaurant industry can be, it is extremely rewarding. If you have the passion and drive, I say, go for it.

VD: What really gets me is a unique idea and the inventiveness used to present it to a customer without sermonising it.

RA: A combination of a good, original idea backed up with great execution and great presentation. And I don’t mean presentation on a plate. It’s about how you tell your story.

‘Grilled’ airs on FOX Life
every Monday at 9 pm.

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