Practical Bravery: ANURAG AGGARWAL

 

HAPPY FOOD!

In this episode, we’ll explore the evolving dynamics of the restaurant industry, particularly in the face of economic challenges and shifting consumer behaviours. We’ll discuss the importance of maintaining cultural authenticity in cuisine and how chefs can use their platforms to educate and inspire. Sustainability is a key theme, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and environmental compatibility, reflecting a broader movement towards more responsible and ethical food practices.

And on a personal level, how does someone transition from a stable corporate career to the uncertainty of the culinary world? What are the keys to creating a successful food business in today’s economic climate? And how can a chef balance tradition with innovation to create a unique and compelling food story?

This is The Possibility Club, and our special guest is MasterChef 2023 Finalist, Anurag Aggarwal.

Key quotes:

“I chose finance as my career. I was on a typical life path, wanted to make a living, raise a family. On paper I was doing great, all my boxes were checked. Then that thought started coming into my mind: what next? Something was missing. I can’t do this for the rest of my life.”

“Covid gave me a deeper insight that what we consider secure and permanent is nothing like that. Somebody sneezes on me and I could be gone in two weeks time. So that realisation gave me courage: I want to do something to follow my passion, which is cooking. So I need to do something about it.”

“Masterchef was the best experience of my life so far. It’s not about being on television, to me food is much more than just ingredients, dishes or cuisine. To be able to be on that presitigious platform, to express myself through my cooking, that was very honouring. It was a brilliant experience.”

“Masterchef gave me the inner conviction that yes, I’m on the right path.”

“They asked me bluntly off camera why I was diversifying into western food. Because I wanted to showcase I could do everything, other than just Indian food. They said you don’t have to. We are not judging if you are a master of all cuisines, we just want to see your original flare, your passion for food. So if you feel passionate, feel love about Indian cuisine, stick to that. That gave me a lot of conviction.”   

“The food aspect is at the core. But the rest is more like any other business, it’s just managing the operations, managing the process.”

“There’s no fixed formula, there’s no right or wrong but it’s important that you create a product that is desirable — but more important in a restaurant, service has to be top notch. If you don’t invest that time and money for your front-of-house staff, your product is of no use.”

“Keep it small! It will evolve over some time.”

“One thing is for sure, the current model will massively change.”

“Restaurants for the time being I’m putting on hold, but I’m working on a project to open up food productions commercial units, to cater to businesses for their food needs.”

“Especially in hospitality, one of the biggest reasons of failure is people who are passionate about food start businesses. They have a huge command of the food but they forget that food is one product in the business, they should focus on the commercial aspect of the business.”

“They should focus on the process. Always think about, what is my process? Think of your business as a process so you can objectively answer those questions.”

“One thing I’m a little concerned about, sometimes we give our priority to all these modern techniques and forget what was the point of food itself. You don’t want to forgo the nostalgia and the real stories behind food.” 

This episode was recorded in April 2024

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts

 

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