As the city gradually opens up after subsequent lockdowns, luxury hotels innovate to keep their kitchens busy: from curated meals in a box to grand thaalis in eco-friendly packaging, they now home-deliver food
Dive into a comforting bowl of pasta or a curated chef’s meal of regional fare featuring kola urundai, Pallipalayam chicken, and keerai kootu, all packed in a luxury hotel kitchen, then delivered right to your front door. To tide over the slowdown triggered by COVID-19 in the hospitality industry, hotels in the city have started takeaway services and are also now home-delivering meals through their in-house fleet.
Indian Hotels Company Ltd, which operates the Taj group of hotels, recently launched its own online food delivery platform called Qmin. “The idea is to offer quality cuisine by the Taj to diners at their homes,” says K Prem, director of sales, Vivanta Coimbatore. Qmin is already operational in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi.
He explains how their takeaway menus have been curated keeping in mind how food looks and tastes after travelling a certain distance. “Our delivery associate also shares detailed instructions on the assembly of the meals,” he says, adding that comfort food is proving to be the most popular. “The menu packs in what is available at our restaurant Latitude — a selection of kebabs and curries. Signature dishes like water chestnut mushroom, and fish in xo sauce from our Chinese restaurant Red Pearl are available as well,” explains Prem, adding that one can also order quesadillas and penne bolognese.
The hotels ensure that associates wear masks and gloves and follow social distancing norms to ensure a safe home-delivery experience. In a bid to enhance the dining experience, packaging is elegant and eco-friendly.
Fairfield by Marriott uses bagasse plates for their takeaway biryani platter that includes biryani, salan, raitha, kachumber salad and dessert, according to JP Menon, general manager. “Recently, we home-delivered 2,000 plates of biryani to employees of a company for its 10th anniversary,” he says.
Packed and delivered
Menon adds that there is good traction for takeaways. “As part of Mariott on Wheels initiative launched countrywide, 95 hotels from the group in various cities are delivering food. We have an ongoing Gujarati, Rajasthani and Rajwadi thaali menu that is also available in a box. Our chef from Surat has curated the menu with over 15 items that includes batata vada, khaman dhokla, mini undhiyu, Surati kadhi, sada bhat, toor dal khichdi, puri and shrikhand.” The hotel has also launched Diwali with Mariott, where they deliver artisanal treats.
Hotels like the ITC Welcome Group already on food delivery platforms have diversified into new revenue streams. “We have launched a Flying Brunch that is delivered at home,” says Erine Louis, General Manager. The menu is an indulgent blend of cuisines that includes starters like vazhaipoo cutlet and samosa chaat, followed by a main course of breads and dal makhani, as well as biryani, schezwan fried rice and sweet basil tomato mozzarella pizza. “We deliver an average of 13 brunches during weekdays and over 40 in the weekends,” he adds.
Orders come in on ITCs in-house takeaway app as well. They also have Gourmet Couch, where they offer meals for small groups of 20 or 30, aimed at corporates. “Takeaway is a powerful business model. And, all our packing materials are biodegradable; our spoons and forks are made of wood. Though some people have begun to dine out, takeaway is the next best option until people are confident to step out.”
Who would have thought that luxury hotels would deliver food to homes? asks D Charles Fabian, Director of Operations, The Residency Towers and says, “We wanted to stay connected with our customers and keep our chefs engaged with the wok and the ladle. During the lockdown, cakes and breads from our bakery did brisk business as takeaway. Then, we added Chinese, and more South Indian items like biryani, kozhi varutha curry, and mutton rogan josh. A few months into lockdown, people got bored of home-made food and our takeaways started doing well.”
Now, the hotel also offers Regenerate Takeaways where they blast freeze cooked dishes at minus 18 degrees. “These can be ordered, stored in your refrigerator and reheated and used when required. We give clear instructions on how to do so. We also launched DIY kits such as those that help one make handmade linguini with vegetables,” explains Fabian, and adds, “The lockdown period gave us ample time to experiment and innovate with fusion. We even made a cake out of sushi without adding sugar or cream for a takeaway order!”