Revolution in the Food and Beverage Industry in Goa
Attributed towards - Vikrant Usgaonkar, Complex Senior Director Talent & Culture at Novotel Goa Candolim and Novotel Goa Resort and Spa. Having begun my journey of 22 years in the hospitality industry in October’1996 right from
Attributed towards – Vikrant Usgaonkar, Complex Senior Director Talent & Culture at Novotel Goa Candolim and Novotel Goa Resort and Spa.
Having begun my journey of 22 years in the hospitality industry in October’1996 right from Goa, I must say a lot has changed and evolved in the culinary and cultural landscape. Over the years, I have served in many parts of India (Mumbai to Kerala) and even Kenya. The industry back then leaned towards serving more continental cuisine. From Portuguese cuisine to Saraswat dishes and now fusion, Goa has seen a proliferation and an amalgamation of all these in a beautiful blend.
It is said that Lord Parshurama shot an arrow from the Sahyadri hills directly into the ocean and the vast coastline of Goa was blessed with colourful culinary delights. Every village in Goa has its own unique story and recipes. The mix of various cultures makes Goan cuisine rich and delightful. Fresh seafood and vegetarian produce like chillies, coconuts and Kokum have multiple health benefits and add a hint of magic to the flavourful Goan cuisine – a trend that began in Goa. Coupled with a vast coastline and our own garden at Novotel brings together the possibility of a congenial farm-to-table experience.
With the ever-changing food dynamics and evolution of the culinary trends, it is crucial to create a certain change. The traditional methods of cooking in clay pots are now replaced by stainless steel utensils and we have adapted to that change. The alterations of traditional recipes however should not be touched. The Goan ‘Poi’ (a bread famous in Goa) from the artisanal local bakers are dwindling from the market as the recipe is recreated with cheaper ingredients. The Goan unpolished rice that tastes best with the curries is also being replaced by Basmati rice which again takes the charm away from the local cuisine. Fusion can be accepted if we keep in touch with the roots and rich heritage that our culture has to offer.
Fusion with burgers is a huge trend in Goa in recent days. We have a myriad of fusion local choices like the ‘cafreal burger’, ‘balchao burger’, ‘balchao naan’, etc. but after a few international meals diners leaned towards eating traditional fish curries and ’kismurs’. We now prepare a variety of seafood unknown to many like the ‘tisryas’ (shells), ‘shinane’ (mussels), ‘tamoshi’ (Red snapper), etc. These fish sound exotic to diners and taste great. The guests revel in this culinary experience and the stories of their origin to create a strong word of mouth organically.
Along with great food, Goa also offers superior quality of ‘feni’ and ‘urrak’ made from cashew fruits. Lately, Goa has also seen an explosion in producing local gins and globetrotters and travellers ensure they do not leave Goa without trying these. Some of them also are widely known and recognized in the international markets. Earlier beverages like marble lemon soda were a fun experience and speciality during the 90s though it is hardly seen anywhere now. The whole preparation was fun to watch and tasted delightful on a sunny day. We wish to bring back this experience which I am sure will be enjoyed by many as a pure nostalgia trip.
Goan community is our greatest strength and we source our local produce like unpolished rice, chorizos, millets, etc from them. Every six months we host a Goan Food Festival through ACCOR’s Planet 21 initiative which believes in giving back to the community.
Chefs here in Goa have diversified their profiles. They may not be natives from here but cooking & learning the local way, preserving the heritage and adding their own touch is definitely worth appreciation.