After almost five months of lockdown, where human sight was rare, what could be better than hosting a party for your near and dear ones and to make the event even more special and memorable?

While we all are waiting for restaurants in Mumbai to make our weekends more chilled and relaxed, restaurants have brought in culinary experience right at our doorstep through Live Kitchen.

But these Live Kitchen are only available for gathering of 15-25 people.

Restaurants like China Bistro, Yang and Yum & Masala, Ditas along with food catering companies such as Elior India, have started Live Kitchen.

Live cooking is a culinary art form that involves chefs preparing the dishes in the open and in front of the customer and serves it.

China Bistro’s offers a mix of authentic Asian salads, dim sums, baos, bowls, among others.

In terms of pricing it offers two packages at Rs 1,000 + Taxes and 1,200 + Taxes per person. The format also accommodates the guest preferences in case of food allergies, dietary / religious requirements like Jain, Vegan or Low Calorie formats.

Sanjay Vazirani, Chairman & Managing Director at Foodlink (which runs the brand China Bistro) said, “We have formed an extensive SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for Live Kitchen which outlines our sustainable approach of using eco-friendly bio-degradable cutlery and bowls,  the safety precautions from sanitization to chef’s gear, etc to seamlessly scale this across other cities other than Mumbai.”

Depending on the food items chosen by the customer, Live Kitchen packages of most restaurants and catering companies are priced in the range of Rs 1000-1500 per person.

Why Live Kitchen

It is difficult to define what the new normal will be as no one knows the future of the post-COVID world. However, one truth that will definitely exist is consumers would like to see how the food that they are eating has been cooked.

Customers are preferring Live Kitchen as the food is made right in front of them while maintaining utmost health and safety standards.

“The reason being that uppermost on consumers’ minds today is safety which takes precedence over taste. However, it is now pretty well known that the virus does not transmit actively through food and hence open kitchens, while emerging as a trend, will actually have a spin-off benefit of inculcating a greater sense of ownership in food safety by those that are involved in its production,” said Sanjay Kumar, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Elior India, a standalone food service company.

Udita Khaitan, Owner, Ditas Restaurant said that every industry needs to innovate during these unprecedented times and Live Kitchens provides an opportunity to enjoy a variety of high-quality dishes while feeling safe in their own spaces.

Well-known chefs are of the view that Live Kitchen cooking is more interactive between guests and chefs.

“A more customised palate is able to be served with also few teachings and learnings during the cooking as many guest are often eager to know about the methods and techniques used. About awadhi cuisine many recipes are just the perfect when cooked live, served and enjoyed immediately like the doodh ke parathe, gilafi kulcha and many more right from the tawa to meal plates,” said Chef Rehman Mujeebur, a Celebrity Chef, and Restaurant Consultant.

Ajay Chopra, a well-known Chef who appeared on the show MasterChef India tells Moneycontrol that for a long time in restaurants and banqueting operations Live cooking has been a thing in demand as it gives a great choice to the consumer and cooking in front also excites the senses.

“Restauranteers are taking all the possible efforts to make the consumer feel relaxed yet safe right from distant dining, table arrangements to lesser personalised on the table service and contact less menus is being seen, but another major part of the dining is the food and for people to be absolutely sure of what they are cooking is absolutely safe restaurants. This is when Live Kitchen gives them confidence,” Chopra added.

No-No to Dine-in

Though lockdowns have been eased in many parts of India, people are still reluctant to eat in a restaurant. In many states, dine-in services are still not allowed and about 40 percent of India’s restaurants are shut.

Sep 13th, is 174th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown, to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.

So far, India has recorded 47,54,356 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 78,586 deaths. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have reported the highest number of cases.

This has led to individuals and families dining at home all the time, and a deleterious effect on the restaurant and F&B industry. According to a report by CRISIL, India’s organised restaurant business will see a 40-50 percent plunge in FY21 revenues.

Restaurants and malls were among the first to be hit as several States directed them to shut down citing safety reasons. In cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, which have a high density of restaurants, public venues and dine-ins were directed to close before the national lockdown.

While most States allowed service deliveries with Unlock 1.0-Unlock 4.0 not all restaurants are fully operational. About 40 percent across the country are still shut owing to lockdowns.

In Maharashtra, the lockdown, which began in March, has been extended until Sep 31. Restaurants and malls are still awaiting the go-ahead to resume operations and allow dine-in services. Until then, restaurant owners will have to rely on deliveries and Live Kitchen to run their business.

Restaurants, catering companies turn to Live Kitchens for small gatherings at home

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