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Food is also a style statement and sound business idea
Anandi Paliwal | 20 May 2013

'Good food is a global thing' seems to be the motto of the new-age entrepreneurs in India who have chosen to build their companies around mixing international experience with rich aura of Indian cuisines. Catering by Design is one such example.

“What I’ve enjoyed most is meeting people who have real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is something new always and amazing to learn-I love it” a statement made by Jamie Oliver a British chef, restaurateur, media personality, known for his food-oriented television shows, cookbooks and more recently his campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools; echoes Arjun Puri’s views about his first love, food, and the high he gets while feeding people. Arjun very fondly remembers his childhood holidays with grandparents in Punjab, which always left him yearning for the same freshly cooked taste of simple yet experimental meals. And during his schooling days at Welham Boys School, Dehradun, while camping he had maximum fun cooking dishes with a twist with the help of the school bearers.

All these influences made it easy for him to choose his career after graduation- exporting pickles Tickles Pickles. It was later followed by cafeteria canteens, becoming pioneers at serving breakfast, lunch, high-tea at BPO’s. When that became monotonous he shut it down, and soon got an amazing offer to cater for a Big Fat Indian Wedding at Udaipur which was a big logistical challenge. After that there has been no looking back for a man whose catering business runs completely through word of mouth publicity.

Once an assignment led him to travel around India, from Kolkata to Kanyakumari and all the way upto Rajasthan by road; stopping at dhabas or people’s homes to learn their local cuisines. This experience was an excellent learning curve for him as now he easily distinguishes between different local cuisines and adapts regional ways of cooking for fusion foods. He began using earthenware to cook foods like saag, chicken, moradabadi daal, to get a distinct flavour which only an alkaline clay pot can give when it interacts with acidic foods, neutralizing the pH balance.

His penchant for innovation never seems to die; known to family and friends, as someone who can cook up something really delicious out of absolutely anything at all, lives for freshly cooked food paying close attention to the quality of the ingredients which can completely blow your mind. Handcrafted brass serving dishes from Moradabad, live sushi or dimsum counters and many other tricks of the trade are used by him, encouraging authenticity and nostalgia especially during soirees.

Arjun Puri’s company Catering by Design can very uniquely cook up a meal for 2 people or more (his maximum count till now has been 6000) with varied Indian – Mughlai, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Coastal, Parsi , Kashur Wazwan, Bengali; European Grills, Spanish and Italian; Mediterranean- Lebanese, Arabic, Turkish, Moroccan; Oriental – Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese for champagne lunches or cocktails.