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Happy Hour For Dining
Words like sustainable and organic are being more meaningfully asserted in the right places for the right reasons
Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma
When I look up the technical definition of luxury, it comes as “a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”. Translated to dining it would mean products and experiences that evoke a sense of being ‘Invaluable’ enough to motivate the consumer to pay a great price for them.
That was the literal part, now let’s move into the perception of luxury and what drives that perception. As I think of luxurious dining experiences and trends in the last decade I see a paradigm shift in what connotes luxury in the modern day diner’s mind. What was luxury dining yesterday is not luxury today. Everything in the luxurious genre needs to upgrade and reinvent to stay top recall for the top buck, but in the food world it is about a little more than reinvention and upgrade. A decade ago it was impossible to set up and sell freestanding Indian cuisine-based luxury dining concepts in India as it was not perceived aspirational enough, except at a few restaurants at ultra-luxurious hotels.
Then something started changing, awareness about our country and culture started growing, the generation that had always found desi to be cool came to the fore and started taking dining decisions and the aspirations changed from knowing about the world in general to knowing about the country in detail. This, coupled with food social media revolution and world food media giving (finally) attention to India and the Indian food scene, has led to what I like to call ‘real and non-pretentious’ cuisine to be deemed as aspirational and invaluable.
Overall dining has moved from being very product and service-oriented to being very experience-oriented, the ability to integrate various tangible and intangible mediums of expression in addition to the givens of great food and exceptional service has allowed the trend of some very unique luxury dining experiences to flourish.
Also the FnB industry has truly become a food and beverage industry now with beverage sales and beverage consumption holding a fair share in the sales mix. That is a result of many factors as well, a couple of them being an all pervading need to ‘pair’ food and beverage when dining out and dining in, and ‘having a drink’ becoming more open and acceptable in society. Also, availability of these premium beverages is at an all-time high, courtesy demand and better and clearer import codes. Single malts and good wines are driving the luxury beverage markets, with gin pitching in a little bit as the white spirit for the ladies and ultra-luxurious liqueurs with 24 karat gold, giving a perfect ending to a great meal.
Another very clear turn that luxury dining has taken for good is truly and seamlessly adopting the word ‘Responsibility’. I think it’s a reflection of our society which is transitioning from a ‘getting’ to the ‘giving’ stage allowing itself to share the joy of having, through dining. Today, its impossible to imagine curating a sustainable luxury dining concept that doesn’t have roots in responsibility. One can sense that responsibility in the whole ecosystem, from the grower becoming responsible towards the crop, soil and water to the restaurant being responsible for the consumer’s health and well-being and the environment in general. Words like sustainable and organic are being more meaningfully asserted in the right places for the right reasons. That for me, is a great sign as a chef because food is meant to do just that — touch, move, inspire and help. Luxury dining is aspirational and responsible dining is likely to pervade all sections, strata and dining concepts.
The author is a celebrity chef and restaurateur
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.