Envisioning a global hospitality workforce
By Shyama Krishna Kumar | Published: 18th September 2013 09:56 AM |
For Das Sreedharan, a leading restaurateur in London for the past two decades, food is not just a business; it is also about using it to give back to the society. So when he recently opened Rasa India, in Indiranagar, he had other big plans too.
The idea was simple. Das knew well that a lot of people are involved in the hospitality industry - whether it's the dishwashers, the chefs, the waiters, the till managers, and more. Each which required different levels of understanding of the job, from high to very low key.
So Das decided to start an intensive program that will bring youngsters from various charities, like Make a Difference and Hope (Kerala) and train them in various facets of the hospitality industry. "What I've noticed in India, is that people fail to look at the bigger picture. Indian food has huge potential in the world market, yet we don't fully capitalise on it. There also isn't enough support when it comes to the lower middle and the underprivileged classes. And these people, they are indeed very special," says Das.
He has approached several charities across the country, meeting with various people, over the last year. "We walk up to these youngsters and remind them that they already have everything they need. They are able-bodied and are complete. All they need is the spark, which we provide. So we invite them into Rasa, where they are taken through various tasks, activities and roles involved in the kitchen and other areas, and every week they learn new skills. At the end of six months of training, they are given a certificate, which they can then use to find a job, or even start working with us," explains Das.
His concern and eagerness to help these youngsters shows in his impassioned expressions, as he eloquently talks about their struggles and difficulties. "These youngsters seem to have a lot of enthusiasm, as compared to people like us, who have been given everything in life. Although they might live sheltered lives, soon they have to face the world and find a place for themselves. Often, they are driven to making bad decisions. Therefore we decided that we needed to focus on them, and provide real education, that'll lift them in life, encourage them to dream and motivate them to reach for higher successes," he explains.
Das also provides training for children, which only involves discussions, exposing them to cutlery and crockery, showing them around the kitchen and the restaurant, the daily routines, etc. Currently six girls from Make a Difference have joined the six month training program, and the response has been gratifying, according to Das. "They are so excited to be here. These are very motivated children, and they realise that it will benefit them in many ways," says Das.
His vision is of a globally competent work force which isn't afraid to dream about what they do. "If one would like to be a world citizen, there's much more to it than just having a job. It involves creativity, passion and vision for your future. We just want to let these youngsters and children know this. Our mission finally is to make them fit to work," says Das.
Das also has other plans for Rasa India, that involve a Farmers' market where amateur farmers can bring their produce to Rasa and sell them. He would also like the youngsters training at Rasa India, to completely take over the management of the consecutive farmers' markets later on. Das is also concentrating his efforts into mobilising the senior citizens from nearby communities, by talking to them and motivating them to get back into the society.