With three decades of experience in the F&B sector, Ganpule now shares his wisdom and knowledge to help entrepreneurs realise their dreams; an F&B concept genie with more than just three wishes!
When innovative chef Vikram Ganpule parted ways with Hyatt after 19 years across its Indian subcontinent hotels, he ventured on a new adventure, The Trove—an all-in-one hospitality consultancy solution.
The brainchild of Ganpule and his business partner, Simran Sehgal, The Trove, is based out of Delhi, India. They specialise in customising F&B solutions by conducting market research, strategising financial objectives and creating authentic and easy-to-execute experiences.
The transition from working at hotels to now working as a consultant, as Ganpule says, has been brilliant. "The F&B section has evolved a lot since I joined the hospitality industry almost three decades ago, and I love it. Working as a consultant is a whole new experience for Simran and me because we get to share our wisdom and knowledge to help F&B entrepreneurs to evolve and realise their dreams," he shares.
So, how did a Delhi-born guy get pulled into the hospitality industry in the late 80s when IT-based careers were on the rise? Ganpule has an interesting story. "I've always loved and admired my mom and grandmom's cooking. That somehow played its part, but The Taj Palace cemented my interest in hotels. The hotel came up just behind where we lived in Delhi, and it looked fabulous! I fell in love with the ambience of the place. I saw how creative this field was, and I knew I had to be a part of it," he says. "I graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, Delhi in 1993 and straight away started working as a kitchen execute trainee. From there, I became a sou chef, an executive sou chef, and then an executive chef," he adds, taking us on his culinary journey.
As an executive chef at Hyatt, Ganpule had the freedom to do things his way, which gave him the confidence to be a consultant. "I was never restricted to the back of the kitchen and was actively involved in interactions and planning. I learned a lot from my time at the hotel, which, now as a consultant, I get to share with others."
Currently revamping the all-day dining experience at The Terraces Resort & Spa, Ganpule's expertise is in overall F&B operations from pre and post-opening, developing creative concepts for corporate and social events to curating and reviving regional Indian cuisine that is progressive and driven by sustainable sourcing and zero waste production. "The management and ownership of Terraces believe in sustainable living and a circular economy, that for me has been a big green flag as us at Trove follow the philosophy of sustainability and zero import," he shares.
"Here at Terraces, we've done one aspect of the hotel's F&B section, including a menu that will serve to strike a balance between sustainability and guest expectation. We will have some comfort food on the menu, but we will also have items which use the local produce from the hotel's gardens," Ganpule shares as he puts on his apron to prepare a few of the dishes ready to be a part of Terraces' menu.
"We have tried to capture the old forgotten Nepali ingredients to bring a local flavour to international food items. Take, for example, ravioli. Instead of doing spinach and ricotta, we're giving it a Nepali twist with all local saag like palungo and rayo," he shares. "Not just that, even the salads you'll get here—Barley Bowl and Nutrition Bomb—will have that local punch."
The Barley Bowl has that local touch with apples, cucumber, balsamic vinaigrette, candied walnut and pickled raisins. In contrast, the Nutrition Bomb, with micro greens, orange, lime dressing and cherry tomato, is equal parts nutritious and tasty.
Calm and collected, Ganpule is always ready to educate his customers and guests on where the food is coming from; that is exactly what he does with the food he introduces to us. "As a chef, you have to be very honest with what you put on a plate," he says as he roasts a kaalij. "This is a locally reared pheasant. If our guests are interested, we can take them to the farm where they are reared." The roasted meat served with creamy grain mustard sauce, stewed red cabbage and brown butter potato makes for a brilliant lunch with a view of the mountain ranges.
As he prepares more food—Himalayan cheese toast and Himalayan trout "en papillote', to be precise—carefully letting the in-house chefs at Terraces take notes, he stresses on how he wants to see more local talents in the hospitality industry. "The biggest problem that we are facing at present is people leaving Nepal in search of better opportunities. We have skilled human resources here who are talented and eager to learn. All that's needed is regular world-class training and grooming programs to nurture them."
Ganpule wants the younger generation to know that they can look forward to a gratifying, fulfilling and enjoyable career in the hospitality industry. "This is, and will always be, a brilliant industry to work in, especially now when we live in such a connected world. However, there is no substitute for hard work. You have to put in those hours and go that extra mile," he concludes.