The word hospitality means ‘friendly and generous reception and entertainment of visitors and guests’ and so is the industry where guests are considered supreme. Every planning, development, and strategy is weaved around the notion to keep the guest at ease and luxury.
Our cover story highlights and celebrates the journey of five chefs who have been successful in turning their passion into their career as Culinary Experts, Artists, or Chefs. Once a dream, now they are living their life with a mission to bring Indian food on a global platter. Along with this issue, we also have covered comprehensive product showcase that was exhibited at AAHAR – The International Food & Hospitality Fair 2018 conducted by ITPO – A Government of India Enterprise. Few of these products have potential to bring revolution in the industry and are seen to possess features that are best suited for commercial requirements. Products such as ‘Automated Chapati Machine’ and ‘Decorative Refuse’ that comes with rain hood by Rubbermaid and many more were exhibited at this fair that we felt should get the highlight. The fair is known to savor the vibrancy of Indian Food & Hospitality Industry. We also had the opportunities to conduct interviews and shed light on the commendable accomplishments of Paritosh Ladhani, Joint Managing Director Radisson Blu Agra in this edition.
Have you ever been overwhelmed skimming through cook-books and magazines filled with scrumptious recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about? The photographs that you see in magazines and books will almost certainly have had some input from a stylist, one who is experienced with working with different foods and props in order to make everything look presentable. Though the mania around food photography is recent this doesn’t prevent food photography to trend in the social media platforms. Professional food photography is a collaborative effort, usually involving an art director, a photographer, a food stylist, a prop stylist, and their respective assistants.
In the feature that follows we have talked with well known food photographers of the industry Krishna Angira & Sharmilla Shah to know about their career insights in a pursuit to understand the concept of food photography in a better way.
Quote1 : Angira
“Basics are same for all types of photography. So I’ll say your basics must be strong to shoot anything. Choose the right lighting, angle and aperture to achieve the result you want.”
Quote 2: Angira
“The Food created for plating by chefs is intrinsically different from the food created to be photographed as its different because we create it for eyes only and sometimes it is practically not possible for a chef to do the same. I like to go beyond the plate.”
Photography has varied genus associated with it and Krishna Angira holds expertise in almost all of it. But as far as Food Photography is concerned, be it dimsums or dessert, he has extraordinary skills for it. He captures delicious food in all its lustre. He is well known for his perfectly-lit food shots. A service provider especially in chocolate photography and cookies he makes even the hard to capture things look as good as the real thing.
Shooting food was not a random call for Krishna Angira. He always wanted to do some great food assignments so he started shooting for his portfolio and that’s how it began. “So far it’s been a wonderful journey. Every new assignment teaches me new things and I become better for future work”, he says.
Food photography has some different challenges from the other field of photography like here one has to be very careful about the props they use. Each food product requires the different angle of shooting to show the details. The ingredients one is using must be fresh and in best shape.
One eats with his eyes first! “In the photography industry your presentation matters the most. Photographer should be very careful about placing of the props and ingredients” Angira mentions. However achieving the target as you see in your mind is a daunting task. “Every shoot have some different challenges and sometimes you cannot guess them. It’s your experience what helps you to overcome all the challenges” according to Angira. “The basic to accomplish any food shoot is to do your homework, understand your product and keep it simple” he further adds.
Being ultra professional, Angira usually carry a macro lens with him, the rest is situational for him. “The basic tools that I carry with me when I’m on for a project on food photography depend on the type of the shoot and theme of the shoot”
He further adds “When we talk of Food Photography people around the world are introducing new trends time to time so I think we need to keep ourselves updated and try to achieve something new from every assignment.”
Quote 1: Sharmilla
Patience is the important factor. People should have patience to get the correct compositions, lighting etc. Be creative. Food is all about presentation. How you make that dish in that plate look to the person who is viewing the image.
Quote 2: Sharmilla
“I loved my experience of shooting for the Brand Empire in Bangalore. The challenge was to keep it creative at the same time also present in a way that the common person who visits this joint cannot connect with. It’s easy to get carried away to shoot exotic shots but if the Brand that is selling the food cannot present the food in a way that connect with the people who are actually eating, then there is no point to the whole exercise of the photo shoot. So I had to walk the balance between these two extremities.”
“Food has to look for it to be consumed or bought,” thinks Sharmilla Shah who adheres to following her passion and offers a warm professional experience with her photography. Sharmilla Photography, established since 2005, offers Professional Photography services in the fields of food, fashion, portraits, interiors, candid wedding, advertising and editorial purposes.
Sharmilla is a big time foodie! So it was natural for her to have inclination for good tasting and good looking food, this developed her interest in food photography. “Pictures of food always caught my eye. So when I became a photographer I knew this genre of photography I will love” she says. She was introduced to food photography by her mentor. The first and the last rule to shooting food she learnt from her mentor was that the picture should make the viewers mouth water. “He or she must want to just take a bite after seeing the food. Then the job is done.”
“I have followed this till date. So this is how it all started for me. The journey so far has been greatly satisfying and exciting to say the least. No two days are the same in my career. My accomplishment is that I have been sought after by some big names in the industry. That makes me feel very valuable” she further adds.
While asked about her favorite setup and types of equipment she promptly replies “I am a canon person. So my 5d is my main equipment. For lenses I love the 70-200 mm lens. It allows me to get real close to the food. Apart from this I mix up 100 mm macro shots, 24-105 too gives me good angles a lot of times. Good and interesting lighting does the trick, always.”
Photographer prefers having a food studio of own rather than doing an instant photography. On comparing the value of a studio to that of a single-shooter photographer she shares her opinion “Any food photographer will tell u that we can set up the studio for the food shoot, wherever we want, as close to the food as possible. So I prefer going to the food, where it is being prepared so as to retain a lot of freshness and colours and textures. Food shoots mostly are one main photographer’s jobs. You may have a food stylist who helps in styling the food, an assistant to the photographer to move things around. Apart from that it’s the main photographer who is in charge and responsible for how the shoot turns out. So studio or no studio makes no difference. The idea is to present the food in a certain way, so we can set up wherever we want!”
Every field area comes with its own challenge, what Sharmilla feels is that the main concern could be food itself looking lifeless, colorless, texture less. These are real issues. Everything else can be managed. Also being clueless about a cuisine can be challenging. Sharmilla likes to know about history of a cuisine she is shooting. Like for the Mongolian cuisine she shot for once, she used a lot of accessories that were relevant. “Food culture and its history, one has to keep this in mind” she says.
Sharmilla has shot for brands such Savvy Cook Book, Food Lovers, Readers Digest are some magazines which have carried my work. Jalpan, Empire, MTR, Churro Destination, Inner Chef are On-line portal, Al Karama, Vapour etc. However, getting this job done can’t be solely one man job! So, other than a Food photographer, the person who prepares it helps in the task. In addition to this, the lighting person can really ruin or make the job as simple or complicated!
A Tale of Legacy
Heritage Hotels speaks the story of their own – the intricate detailing on their pillars, the facade, architectural features and general construction – these detailing generally has the distinctive qualities and ambiance in keeping with the traditional way of life of the area and set the trademark for the palace hotels. A hotel running in palaces or castles or forts or havelies or hunting lodges or residence of any size built prior to 1950 comes under Heritage Hotel category. India houses a number of such palace hotels whose stories are worth sharing and re-sharing. Let’s take you to the journey of legacy, highlighting the profound history of Indian tradition and culture.
1. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Trivia – One of the world’s largest private residences, with a part of the palace also houses a museum. The Palace was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine.
The estimated cost of building the palace was Rs 11 million. When it opened its gilded doors in 1943 it was considered as one of the largest royal residences in the world.
Located in Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan Palace is named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, the Grandfather of the present owner – Gaj Singh of the palace. The palace serves as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels.
Ground for the foundations of the building was broken on 18 November 1929 by Maharaja Umaid Singh and the construction work was completed in 1943. Gaj Singh II who succeeded his father then decided in 1971 to convert a part of the palace in to a hotel. The hotel wing of the palace is run by the Taj Group of Hotels and is called the ‘Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur. It has 64 guest rooms including the luxurious “Regal and Vice Regal Suites” and the fabulous “Maharaja” and “Maharani suites” with art deco style decorations, the latter is fitted with a bath tub carved from a single block of pink marble said to be the only one of its type in India.
2. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
Trivia – A floating royal abode, the palace was used as the summer resort by the successors of Maharana Jagat Singh II.
The Taj Lake Palace which is imposed with Aravalis on one side and a series of fascinating monuments on the other, is highly luxurious Lake Palace and stands as one of the most romantic spots on the globe. The palace was used as shooting place for the movies like, the James Bond film Octopussy, Fritz Lang’s The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb as palace of Chandra, the maharajah of the fictitious town of Eshnapur. The Lake Palace was built between 1743 and 1746 under the direction of the Maharana Jagat Singh IIof Udaipur, Rajasthan as a winter palace. It was initially called Jagniwas or Jan Niwas after its founder. The walls made of black and white marbles are adorned by semi-precious stones and ornamented niches. Bhagwat Singh decided to convert the Jag Niwas Palace into Udaipur’s first luxury hotel. Didi Contractor, an American artist, became a design consultant to this hotel project. Didi’s accounts give an insight to the life and responsibility of the new Maharana of Udaipur:
3. Rawla Narlai, Pali District
Trivia – The taste of true Rajasthani Royal Hospitality can be found at the 16th Century old Baori (Step Well) of Rawla Narlai.
Situated between Jodhpur and Udaipur, Rawla Narlai is an unmatched hospitality experience offering you the opportunity to detach yourself from the hurly-burly of city life, this heritage hotel is worth spending some extra cash. Clad in the 17th century cloak, the hotel boasts of elegant décor, warm hospitality and unparalleled services. Fort Rawla Narlai evokes the nostalgia of the bygone era. En-route Ranakpur in Rajasthan, the outstanding heritage resort is located in the quaint Narlai village. The erstwhile hunting lodge of the royal family of Jodhpur has a rustic charm that draws visitors for delightful holidays. Set in the lap of Aravallis, enveloped by rocky outcrops, and a huge granite rock, it is a tranquil getaway. Enjoy a memorable stay in the charming heritage resort. Luxurious rooms and suites pamper you. Delicious food and beverages add to the pleasure. Rajasthan’s legendary hospitality and modern facilities creates a wonderful experience.
4. Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
A former royal hunting lodge, then a residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur, and now a luxury hotel, this architectural masterpiece flaunts all shades of its history.
‘The Jewel of Jaipur’, The palace remained the home of Jaipur’s royalty until 1957, The mansion was renamed after Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II.
Originally built in 1835, Rambagh Palace has stepped gracefully through many royal transitions—from the home of the queen’s favourite handmaiden, to royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, and later as the residence of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his queen, Maharani Gayatri Devi. Today, this jewel in the Taj’s crown offers 78 stunningly restored grand luxury rooms and suites which were the chambers of the former Maharaja.
The palace retains its elaborate splendour, extravagantly decorated with hand-carved marble ‘jalis’ or latticework, sandstone balustrades, cupolas and ‘chattris’ or cenotaphs, and elaborate Mughal Gardens. Within this most glorious of palaces showcasing the best of Rajasthan’s royal heritage, you also experience the best fine-dining restaurants in Jaipur.
One can enjoy a royal Indian feast at Suvarna Mahal, the former palace ballroom built in the 18th-century French style with huge crystal chandeliers. One can take his royal retreat a notch further by indulging in signature treatments at the Jiva Grande Spa, where the palace envelop you in ancient Indian wellness therapies. One ca harmonise his mind and body with yoga and meditation. Over the years, the hotel has played gracious host to several illustrious guests, such as Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Charles and Jacqueline Kennedy.
5. Chapslee, Shimla
Trivia – Chapslee is one of the oldest houses and finest residence in Shimla, Chapslee became the 8th heritage hotel in India, “If Simla is the queen of the hills, then Chapslee is its crown.”
In 1828, a plot was purchased by Dr. Blake of the East India Company on which he constructed a house in 1830, first named Secretary Lodge and later Chapslee. It was made in the local “dhajji” style, comprising mud, grit and wood, with a surkhi (brick powder) lime plaster. It was Lord Auckland’s Secretariat during his tenure as Governor General of the East India Company, while he resided at Auckland House, next door. It was where the ambassadors of both, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Shah Shuja, exiled King of Kabul (Afghanistan) met and where the ‘Simla Manifesto’- A declaration of war to install Shah Shuja once again as the King of Kabul, was signed on 1st October, 1838. The arrangement of the house as a Secretariat continued with both Lord Ellenborough, who signed the armistice with Afghanistan, on 1st October, 1842. Lord Hardinge, who succeeded Lord Ellenborough sold the house in 1848 to General Innes, who then named it Chapslee. Thereafter, it was bought and sold by many important people who lived there for short periods, including Courtney Ilbert of the “Ilbert bill” fame.
In 1896, a prominent Simla citizen, Sir Arthur Milford Ker, purchased Chapslee and while retaining the original ‘core’ structure, Sir Arthur enlarged the house all round in such a manner that ‘Simla Past and Present’, the first historical account of Shimla published in 1904, records Chapslee as Shimla’s finest residence.
Chapslee was purchased by the late Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala in October, 1938 and its interiors were fully refurbished. His grandson, Kanwar Ratanjit Singh, son of the late Lt. Col. Rajkumar Ripjit Singh, C.I.E. is the present owner and lives there with his wife. They opened their doors to visitors in 1976 and Chapslee became the 8th heritage hotel in India.
Evocative of a bygone era, Chapslee was formerly the summer residence of the late Honorable Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala. His grandson, Kanwar Ratanjit Singh, popularly known as Reggie, now runs it as a small exclusive hotel.
6. The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
The largest pillarless ballroom in the city are found at The Oberoi Grand.
Finding its establishment back to the late 1880s, developed as the private residence of a Colonel Grand in the early nineteenth century, The Oberoi Grand is one of the best luxury heritage hotels in Kolkata, exuding a royal colonial style with modern additions. The hotel welcomes both leisure and business travelers, providing them a comfortable stay.
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata was frequented by the country’s leading figures during colonial times and even now, hosts grand functions for Heads of State in the city’s largest pillarless Grand Ballroom. The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata was the first hotel to be acquired by Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi, founder of The Oberoi Group. It is an elegant building of British era and is a famous building in Kolkata.
7. The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace is built even before the Gateway of India.
Hotel at the time of World War I was converted into a hospital with 600 beds, Build because Jamset Ji Tata once restricted to entre Watson’s Hotel, city’s grand hotel of the time.
In 2017, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel has acquired an image trademark. It is the first building in the country to get intellectual property rights protection for its architectural design. The hotel’s original building was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on 16 December 1903.Opened in the year 1903, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai reflects the perfect blend of Moorish, Oriental and Florentine architectural styles. With its classic grandeur and elegance it also gives the guests panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India.
It is widely believed that Jamset Ji Tata decided to build the hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time, Watson’s Hotel, During World War I the hotel was converted into a hospital with 600 beds. When it opened in 1903, the hotel was the first in India to have: electricity, American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers. Later it also had the city’s first licensed bar, India’s first all-day restaurant, and the India’s first discothèque.
8. Kalmatia Sangam Himalaya Resort, Almora
One can get unhampered view of the snow-clad Himalayas from the palace hotel.
In 1867 Capt. ES Jackson discovered this place of beauty and built a house in the British colonial style. At the end of the century the Kalimat Estate was bought by Edward Thomas Chowdhary, the District Commissioner of Kumaon and was eventually passed down to his granddaughter and German husband whom together built the resort. Today the property is owned by Dr Arvind Lal and Dr VandanaLal, herself a keen photographer and trekker and who takes a keen interest in maintaining the property’s original charm. This area has long been considered “magical” perhaps because it lacks a certain filter in the atmosphere, in common with the area of Machu Picchu in Peru.
9. The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi
Constructed in 1936 on Queensway, now Janpath, The 5-star property has a royal feel and thus reminds its guests of the British Raj!
It was this hotel and the bar where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met to discuss the Partition of India and the birth of Pakistan. It is also the name of a school in Aligarh. Chosen as India’s best ‘Luxury Historical Hotel’ by World Luxury Hotel Awards 2015, The Imperial was built by S.B.S. Ranjit Singh, son of R.B.S. Narain Singh, honoured by the British Raj, at the Coronation Durbar of 1911, wherein New Delhi was declared the new Capital of India from Calcutta. The hotel was restored by its General Manager and Vice President, Harvinder Sekhon, between 1996 and 2001.
11. Netuk House – A Heritage Sikkimmese Home
Built in the late 1950’s, the house belonged to Gellong Netuk Lama, an executive counselor to the then Chogyal (Monarch), Tibet Road. The home stay is perfect for those seeking the traditional Sikkimese hospitality without missing on the modern conveniences. Netuk House, Gangtok is a property of the Denzongpas, a royal Sikkimese family who were long rooted to this scenic town. Traditional hospitality is meted out by the Denzongpas , view of the whole of Gangtok and even majestic view of the snow clad Kanchendzonga one can get at the palace hotel. The entrance of the hotel is done in a typically Sikkimese style with Buddhist prayer flags hoisted up.
12. Brunton Boatyard, Kochi (Cochin)
Trivia – Situated at the same place where once situated Victorian shipbuilding yard.
The Brunton Boatyard is a heritage hotel in Kerala on the shores of Cochin Harbour. It is re-built from the wonderfully restored remnants of the 19th century Victorian shipyard. The hotel enjoys a picturesque location. Revel in the soothing ambiance of the resort. The arte facts and curios from the great age of steam and sail have been properly preserved with addition of modern luxuries for comfort of every traveler. All rooms offer the picturesque views, overlooking the Arabian Sea.
This heritage hotel takes its guests on a journey back in the 19th century as the hotel maintains a colonial look. The hotel’s interior is however inspired by Dutch, Portuguese and English style. It is a tribute to the bygone era.