Lunch at work has a new makeover. Workplaces around the world, and in India, are catering to the rising trend of tailor-made food options for employees. Elior India—a subsidiary of France-based Elior Group—has tied up with leading Indian companies and MNCs to serve over 1.8 lakh meals every day to employees across the country.
Their USP is a chef-led model, where trained chefs are hired to interact with clients and plan menus. It is no longer about your regular idli-sambhar or chhole-rice. Corporates are giving a facelift to their office cafeterias to target the urban millennials looking for seasonal special menus, diet-specific options, pop-up restaurants within the campus, multi-cuisine meals, and more unique recipes such as beetroot cakes, ragi-inspired desserts and millet biryanis.
Sanjay Kumar, MD and CEO, Elior India that is spread across South and West India including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, says, “More and more corporates now see work place food as part of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and not just a cost item. Organisations see employee meals as part of employee well-being and not just a tax-deductible expense.”
Little wonder that Google India with offices in Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Mumbai boasts chefs preparing cuisines from around the world, including dishes from 28 Indian states. From live pasta counters to micro-kitchens on all floors, it’s a party, literally. Facebook recently opened its second office in India in Mumbai, which promises to be a haven for those with a sweet tooth.
Flipkart’s corporate office in Bengaluru is quite famous for its special coffee from Hatti Kaapi—a popular Bengaluru filter coffee chain.
Infosys, Bengaluru, has a panel of employees who get to decide what should go on the menu and every week, the food on offer keeps changing. In the run-up to Christmas, the food court at Godrej One, the Godrej group’s global headquarters at Vikhroli in Mumbai, is the centre of festivities with roast turkey, a live ravioli station and a dessert counter piled with yule logs, stollen and cake. Besides, there is an on-site Starbucks, and a Nature’s Basket for quick snacks.
Sanjay believes the growth prospects of the industry is still at a nascent stage. He says, “India has a low outsourcing ratio when it comes to food consumed at home/or produced in-house versus that consumed from service providers. This presents a great opportunity for growth. India also offers a more globalised workforce which makes it easier to build offers in food and wellness. The Indian contract catering market is projected to reach revenues of $7 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of approximately 16 percent during 2018-2020.”
So, from the typically stacked Milton hot boxes of dal, rice or roti, seasonal vegetables or curries, salad and yogurt, and maybe a piece of mithai that we would see our fathers and uncles carry each morning while heading out to conquer the world, we now have ‘chefs on call’, who can whip up fancy and healthy meals to suit our palate.