Hospitality leaders discuss making Indian food and beverages mainstream 

India’s Consul General in New York Binaya Srikant Pradhan, above, and panelists discuss food and spirits. Ideas to make Indian food and beverages mainstream were discussed at the Food and Spirit of India event organized by the Consulate General of India, NY.
Photo : Courtesy Consulate General of India, NY

The Indian Consulate in New York recently held a brainstorming meeting “Food and Spirit of India” at its premises, with restaurants, food bloggers, critics and entrepreneurs from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to promote Indian food and beverages in the U.S.

Restaurants and food businesses suffered major setbacks during the pandemic lock downs. Many small and large Indian restaurants have closed after that. At the same time, Indian food became the choice of many people due to its use of healthy spices like turmeric. If properly presented and marketed, Indian food business can become the choice of many in the U.S., experts have said. This is what the panel at the consulate discussed.

The well attended event included officials from the Consulate and the Indian Government, including Consul General Binaya Srikant Pradhan and high officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Commerce; representatives from the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC,; and successful influencers, developers and entrepreneurs  in the food business in the U.S.

A packed audience eagerly listen to speakers at the recent Food and Spirit of India discussions at the Indian Consulate in New York.
Photo : Courtesy Consulate General of India, NY

The meet included some famous names in the Food business, who all survived the pandemic lockdowns and have been thriving and managing their businesses dexterously and creatively.

Roni Mazumdar, with partner Chef Chintan Pandya, is the owner of Unapologetic Foods which owns and operates Adda Indian Canteen, Dhamaka, Semma, Rowdy Rooster, Masalawala & Sons, Naks, and Kebabwala restaurants and food brands in New York City. Mazumdar has won the title of FSR Magaine’s Rising Star in 2021, and named the New Guard of Dining in NYC by the Eater Power Issue in 2020. His Dhamaka restaurant has been named by Time Out magazine as one of the 21 Best New Restaurants in the World.

Chef Prasad Chirnomula, expert at Indian and Mexican cuisine,  is called “..the most exciting Indian chef in the U.S.” by the Rosengarten Report. An of the Food Craft Institute of Poona with degrees in culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management, Prasad has created six very successful Thali restaurants in New Canaan, Connecticut, in Ridgefield, Westport and New Haven. Prasad who has won the 2011 Elm City Iron Chef title, is involved in all the aspects to create a memorable dining experience.

Saurabh Abrol, the founder and CEO of Le Malt Hospitality Group, was mentioned in the Global Millionaire Magazine in April 2024. Le Malt Hospitality Group offers different brands including Le Malt Lounge, Le Malt Royale, Le Malt Imperiale, Meximodo and Wine Chateau. Abrol is a well known name among the Market Watch Leaders, has won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award and has been honored by R&R Marketing Achievement and the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship.

Anjali Dhir, a graduate of the Towson University in Maryland,  works as a technology project manager in AI and robotic process automation. Dhir’s online brand Toast to Taste, focuses on food, culture and adventure, including traditional, fusion, vegan, and healthy recipes. Her webpage offers a range of topics including restaurant reviews, travel insights, self-care tips.

Other experts included Andrew Rigie, Franklin Becker and representative from 67 Orange Street. Rigie comes from a family food business background in New York, and is a graduate of Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.  Rigie is the Founding Executive Director of the independent NYC Hospitality Alliance which informs, educates, services and represents restaurants and nightlife venues. He has been listed as “Rising Stars: Next Generation of Political Leaders” by City & State in their 40 Under 40 list.

Panelists discuss in detail their ideas at the breakout sessions at the recent Food and Spirit of India discussions organized by the Consulate General of India, NY. Photo : Courtesy Consulate General of India, NY

Founder of F. Becker Hospitality, Chef Franklin Becker is known for creating new food concepts in high-end restaurants and fast-casual dining. Becker has over 30 years’ culinary and business development experience and has starred on Bravo’s Top Chef Master’s. Becker is Culinary Director for Aurify’s brands and is the founding partner of the fast-casual The Little Beet and full-service restaurant The Little Beet Table, The Manhattanville Market Food Hall and Oliva Tapas at Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus.

67 Orange Street was established by Pete Williams as Almacks, the first Black owned and operated bar in the political scene of the 19th century. Today’s 67 Orange Street, located at Frederick Douglass Blvd in NYC, is a popular and vibrant culture center owned by Karl Franz Williams.

The meet was also attended by representatives of The Culture Tree organization which promotes cultural literacy about South Asia through language and educational and cultural programs. The outcome of the brainstorming meet was a list of new ideas and innovations.



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