Culinary Couple - Maya and Shankar
In Hyderabad, Maya and Shankar are names synonymous with great food and culinary delights. Together, the husband-wife duo has been treating the city to their delicious offerings for the last 13 years. In conversation with us, they tell us about their gastronomic journey and passion for food.
How and when did you get into the F & B industry?
Shankar: We’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years. It all started off by chance, as I didn’t get into the specific branch of engineering that I wanted. And though I got selected for medicine, I didn’t want to join.
Maya: I have grown up enjoying hotels, and gradually moved from working for various hotel projects to designing.
What roles do you play at Fusion Hospitality?
S: I’m a chef by profession, so my work revolves around the operations, preparing the menu, working in sync with global market trends and trying to do things differently to enhance the F & B experience. Maya has a keen eye for detail, so she is the perfect partner for upkeep and maintenance, thereby ensuring the experience is always fresh. Apart from doing up the place, she also handles the PR and marketing on a very personal level. She conceptualises and designs the décor for all the restaurants, and parties for outdoor catering.
Your flagship restaurant, Fusion 9, has been up and running successfully for many years. Did you envision such a terrific response?
S: Frankly, the journey started to prove things to myself, whether I could do things as an entrepreneur (even though I opened over 30 to 40 restaurants globally in hotels).We were lucky to enter Hyderabad (13 years ago) at the right time, I guess.
What does your brand specialise in?
S: Over 30 years, with strong fundamentals in place, and with a view to doing things differently and keeping in sync with modern trends, we’ve always worked on bringing fresh aspects on a platter into the market. So as a company we have forayed into various verticals – restaurants, bars, institutional catering, banqueting (both social and corporate), bakery cafes and bistros. The learning is to enhance the guest’s experience across all the brands under the Fusion Hospitality umbrella.
M: It’s definitely the support of our loyal clientele over the years! Our brand has grown immensely thanks to the unconditional love of our clients, so that’s our speciality!
How difficult is it to run such a successful chain of restaurants?
S: You cannot look at running restaurants as a job. If you do so, then you’re in the wrong industry. It’s a lot of hard work, in both the front and back of the house. It’s hugely an emotional and passion-driven biz. It’s a people-oriented operation, and guests as well as the team have to be in a happy state of mind to deliver and receive the right type of experience. There are long hours, standing on your feet, and one has to deliver the experience day in and day out. So to run multiple operations, the back-end systems have to be even stronger. And the team needs to believe in their capabilities and the ethos of the company in order to deliver similar experiences across all brands. Also, guests have huge expectations when they move from one restaurant to another from the same chain, so it’s that much more challenging to ensure consistency across all our outlets.
M: Every manager and chef has their own cluster of clientele. Over the years our clientele has gradually grown only because of the one-to-one interactions we have with them.
How different is banqueting from running a restaurant?
S: Banquets are hugely different, as here we are dealing in volumes, across the board, and yet we must provide consistent experiences. Working on banquets is very dynamic, as it gives you the opportunity to explore new menus, styles of presentation, and thereby a huge level of satisfaction upon successful delivery. It’s purely referral, and your delivery levels ensure that more biz is generated from happy and satisfied clients.
Culinary Couple - Maya and Shankar