Mumbai’s first #HighOctaneLab

Nitrogen-infused cocktails… were the first thing that came to mind when I heard Zorawar Kalra is launching a mixology bar. Known for his brilliance in molecular gastronomy, I was eagerly waiting to see what his latest venture has in store.

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On Saturday evening, the team behind Masala Library, Made In Punjab, Pa Pa Ya and Farzi Cafe (opening soon in Dubai, Mumbai & Bangalore) hosted a spectacular launch party at their highly anticipated #HighOctaneLab – MasalaBar. Located at Bandra’s bustling Carter Road, this mixology bar is surely a fresh change from the regular drink holes in the city.

Strategically positioned above Café Coffee Day, MasalaBar is an ideal spot overlooking the Arabian Sea from where one can enjoy panoramic views of the setting sun. With reflective mirrors and classy interiors, the place has a warm, feel-good vibe to it. Rumored to be the world’s first candle-lit bar, light bulbs have been replaced with old-school candles thereby offering a first-of-its-kind intimate experience. Over 800 organic candles brighten up the place by creating innumerable tints on the walls by reflecting on their generously placed mirrors. Never before have I seen something so beautiful! Imagine lightening a bar with candles only… Now that’s an innovative first, isn’t it?

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As I set my eyes upon the bar, I am transported to Chemistry lecture days that most of us never really took seriously. It’s a sight to see bartenders stir up dramatic cocktails using scientific tools with post-modern techniques and local ingredients like thandai. Their aim is to make you enjoy your drinks like never before with their limited but unique range of signature cocktails – each one known to have an identity of its own! Every one of their heady concoctions has unusual but intriguing names like an An Evening at Chowpatty, Malabar Point, Sunset @ Carter, Bollywood Bhang, and Mumbai Matinee among others. Not just that, their wines and single malt list adds to their expansive beverage section, thus providing a premium bar experience to every guest. Whether you drink or not – be prepared to get intoxicated by simply watching the action at their high octane lab-like set up.

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Photo Credit – Anurag Banerjee

A perfect accompaniment to the bar is their innovative tapas menu that offers a selection of various dishes. From classic bar bites like Fish Fingers to Carbon Pav Bhaji, a modernized take on the regular street speciality, the menu has interesting choices to pick from. Other options include buns and sliders, fries, lip-smacking Pork Ribs, Chicken Wings, Khari Naan Khatai and lots more. Though I couldn’t sample all of it on Saturday, I enjoyed what I tried. However, don’t raise your expectations too high with the food as the focus here is mainly on the drinks.

MasalaBar will surely be the city’s buzzing neighborhood bar once it opens to public (opening on 16th March). Upon being asked about his newest space, Zorawar Kalra said, “From the most ancient form of illumination to the most cutting edge form of intoxication, MasalaBar seamlessly imbibes technologies of different eras. It surely is the next level, of the next level!” As of now, this seems to be the most promising bar among the relatively newer bars in the suburbs – but let’s just wait and watch.

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Celebrating Women! – Polka Cafe

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-2-52-27-pmBeing a woman in the hospitality industry is no easy task. But then again, women are known to go against all odds and achieve what they aspire right?

Meet 15 women who are taking the food industry by a storm. Their passion and dedication has made them reach where they are today. I’d like to call them game-changers; they make their own rules every day! Read on as they share their mantras to success, sources of inspiration, their role in the hospitality industry and lots more.

Manmeet Vohra, Director – Marketing and Category, TATA Starbucks Private Ltd..jpgManmeet Vohra believes success requires an almost obsessive quest for perfection. “The ability to withstand pressure and not crack under it as well as the urge to pre-empt every possibility has been my mantra for a fulfilling professional life.” She is currently Director – Marketing & Category at Tata Starbucks India Pvt. Ltd.

Chef Rakhee Vaswani, Owner, Plate Culinary Studio.JPGCelebrity Chef Rakhee Vaswani who is also the Owner of Palate Culinary Studio is inspired by quotes coined by phenomenal women like Margaret Thatcher & Mother Teresa who flew leaps and bounds to change the world around them for the better:

‘Any woman who understands the problem of running a home will be nearer to the problems of running a country.’ – Margaret Thatcher.

‘I know god will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he didn’t trust me so much.’ – Mother Teresa.

Divyangana Srivastava, Director Human Resources at JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Juhu.jpg“I think women are extremely passionate, empathetic and are good multitaskers as a whole. These qualities come to women almost naturally and display great strength at home and at work,” says Divyangana Srivastava, Director of Human Resources, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu. According to her, women have the power to evaluate a situation from both sides and a ‘never say no attitude’ which makes them extremely cherished as a part of a team. “It is for these reasons that many corporates and multinationals are working towards developing special programmes and welfare schemes for women,” she further adds.

_MG_9756.jpgMs. Thea Tammeleht – Owner and Founder of Nordic Kandie and Chocolat Delicatessen:
WOW! Being a woman already sounds awesome. Given the fact that nature decided we are the ones who get cradle life within us and that we help families prosper when we have a role in decision-making, we add beauty to life! Being a woman is the most satisfying gift that nature has given us.”

Neha Gundecha.jpg“Women are to hospitality born. It is a natural extension of who we are hence women fit like gloves in the hospitality industry. The challenges, then on, are aplenty but then that is the case for women in almost all industries,” says Neha Gundecha – Director Jeon, Hotel Sea Princess.

Untitled.pngNishtha Kapoor says, “In the hospitality industry, where hard work, spirit, and energy trump degrees, if you are willing to put in the time, which is easier said than done – you should have no obstacles. You do need to be willing to go where the opportunities are. The more flexible you are, the better.” As Finance Manager, Jaipur Marriott Hotel, she feels that opportunities for women in the hospitality industry have begun to expand exponentially at every level, ranging from floor supervisors to executive board members. “Every career can be challenging to a woman, but it is up to you to step up to the occasion and work past the biases,” she further adds.

Ayushi Shah, Owner & Head Chef, Icing On Top.jpgHard work and perseverance is Ayushi Shah, Owner and Head Chef, Icing On Top’s mantra to success. Just like most other women, she too faced many challenges when she stepped into the industry. “When I started baking, this was an unusually male dominated profession. Going out to trade shows and food exhibitions was always quite annoying, because most vendors would either classify you as a ‘home-baker’ or ask for a senior male authority or aapke papa kahan hain. But knowing that you’re an all-rounded personality can make you capable of doing whatever you want as long as you have the will power and need to achieve it,” she says.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC - Shalini Thomas - Associate Director of Sales.JPGShalini Thomas, Associate Director of Sales, Sofitel Mumbai BKC swears by the quote –

“Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”

She says, “I have stuck by these words throughout the journey of my career and it has helped me thrive, not only in the industry, but also in an otherwise “male dominated” world. It singles out two apt situations – one that demands patience, right at the beginning of your career and the next how you treat those around at your peak.” One of the most important lessons she has learnt is to remain humble to her fellow colleagues and subordinates as she realizes the struggle every individual goes through to attain credit and recognition. “I think my patience and attitude define who I am today, and have helped me gain the respect of many, not only as Associate Director of Sales at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, but primarly, as a woman in the hospitality industry,” she concludes.

Aarathi Arambhan Profile pic(2).jpg“Women are the heart of the kitchen at every household, its nice to see new names emerging on the food market but we need more women to join the force and break the myth that the kitchen is a male dominated field,” says Aarathi Arambhan- Curator of MeSoHappi and The Captain’s Table. She also feels that in the restaurant space, there are always challenges; especially when it comes to woman in the industry but as long as one faces it, learns from it and keeps moving forward – nothing else matters! According to her, the best part about being a woman is the ability to be empathetic, caring, and perceptive and to have a keen eye for detail.

Lolita Sarkar pic.jpgLolita Sarkar, Creative Chef & Founder, Desi Deli started her tiny little cafe in Bandra after making films. Understanding a new industry with all its joys and pains was quite intimidating for her. But today, Desi Deli is one of the most popular cafes in the city. “We have gone through the stress of setting up and there’s great joy when our food and service gets appreciated,” she says. Upon being asked what it feels like to be a woman, she says, “We get more colours to choose from, more jewellery to buy…But jokes aside – men or women – the best part is when you can live who you are to the fullest.”

megha agarwal- TCC,high resMegha Agarwal, Owner, The Corner Courtyard in Kolkata believes in Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote – “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people that you are, you aren’t.”

Mr. Radhika Tata, Associate Director of Sales, Novotel Imagica Khopoli-2.JPG“Today, women have grown to be more individualistic and tend to find jobs and roles they are passionate about. They are extremely hard working and put in long hours with gusto. Over the past few years, women have made inroads in the hospitality industry and 70.4% of them in the industry would recommend their employers to other women,” says Radhika Tata, Associate Director of Sales, Novotel Imagica Khopoli (the property has witnessed a large female presence in the upper management and have a ratio of 28% of women recruited with 3 ladies heading departments).

Krithika Pajewar, Assistant Restaurant Manager.jpgKrithika Pajewar, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort always wanted to head the culinary & service department and is striving hard to do so. “Women are now quite actively involved in the industry and are being recognized for their efforts. They also hold higher positions in the industry which was quite a task earlier.” At Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort, her male colleagues pamper the women by buying them drinks.

shweta.jpgMs. Shweta Sharma, Director of Sales, Meetings & Events, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre and HICC believes that the hospitality industry can be quite challenging but a lot of fun too – “The challenge with the hospitality industry is the extensive hours, which tests your work-personal life balancing skills. The key lies in optimal time management and focusing on each aspect without compromising on any one. Although this might seem difficult, one can take back loads of cherished memories and experiences from this industry.”

Also on Polka Cafe – http://www.polkacafe.com/powerful-women-in-hospitality-industry-2518.html

Good Breakfast = Happy Morning!

I’ve always been a fan of breakfasts – be it a lavish buffet at a hotel or a simple one at home. Since it is the most important meal of the day, I truly believe that one should make the most of it. This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, not once but thrice at three different places and I cannot even begin to explain how awesome they were. From the ambiance to the food, everything was so relaxing and enjoyable that I truly wish I could visit these places everyday!

Fable:
Juhu’s brand new all-day diner is straight out of a fairytale. Stacks of books, a wishing well, white walls, vintage furniture and printed floors warmly welcome you to this 75-seater cafe. An ideal place for readers, they have books that cater to all age groups, including children. Antique frames, lamps, wooden chairs and quotes at various corners only add to the rustic setting. They have an extensive all-day menu, designed like a novel and a breakfast menu that is available till 7pm. Pick from a variety of eggs, bagel sandwiches, pancakes, waffles and more for breakfast along with refreshing coolers.To start with, I ordered for their signature Egg Decker. Truffled scrambled egg was served on a bed of creamed spinach and rösti potato and topped with sharp cheddar – it tasted as good as it looked! Next, I opted for their comforting Mac & Cheese – how can one ever go wrong with this classic breakfast special? The Rice Noodle Upma was a unique, light and delicious twist to the regular version and the Grilled Chicken Bagel Sandwich with red wine onions, lettuce and cream cheese was good too. My breakfast ended with a huge portion of their soft and fluffy Banana Pancakes served with nutella, maple syrup, candied nuts and fresh fruits – surely something I would love to wake up to every day. If good food with a relaxing ambiance is your thing, don’t miss out on this place.IMG_3633.JPG

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Fable Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Yoga House:
Located in the by-lanes of Carter Road, this quaint yoga haven is known for its simple, healthy and delicious all-day food menu. You can visit The Yoga House to practice yoga, purchase organic ingredients and other collectibles from their store or to simply relish a heart-warming meal at their cutesy studio-turned-cafe situated at the topmost level. As I entered, I was asked to leave my shoes outside. The soothing blue and white space made a perfect setting for a comforting, feel-good meal. Their menu offers a mix of flavors from salads to tartines and burgers, all vegetarian and mostly grease-free too.Being a fan of quinoa, I ordered for the Quinoa Upma with yellow and green peppers, carrots, almonds, spring onions, garlic and lemon – fuss-free and gratifying. From the regular menu, I opted for their signature Quinoa Burger also known as ‘I Am Detoxifying.’ Its hard to believe how something so healthy could actually be so tasty. When they say they offer organic food, they truly live up to it. Each ingredient is fresh and bursting with flavors. The place is undoubtedly a  treat for those looking to indulge in a healthy meal.IMG_3631.JPG

The Yoga House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Nutcracker:
They say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ I say, ‘Don’t judge a restaurant by its space.’ This small (and I mean small) breakfast cafe in Kala Ghoda, a stone’s throw away from Ayubs has been a favorite ever since its inception. With grungy interiors, limited seating and a no reservation policy, this buzzing place offers some of the yummiest variations to home-style eggs.My meal started with the Salli Eggs served with butter pao – hands down my favorite dish. Next in line was the Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich, oozing with cheese and irresistible – couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day. The Pesto Panini, wrapped with succulent pieces of mushrooms, roasted red peppers, zucchini and feta was a hit too. Apart from their indulgent breakfast menu, their regular menu features a variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers, pastas and desserts – most of which are worth trying. I would surely recommend this place for a delightful homestyle meal.salli_eggs.JPG

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