There was a time in the not-too-distant past when catering was considered a luxury. Even at large functions like weddings, the women of the household would pool in their resources and family members like aunts, bhabhis, didis, and neighbours would chip in to prepare meals and feed the guests. At best the neighborhood “halwai” would be roped into providing a sumptuous fare. But then disposable incomes began rising, time became a scarce commodity, celebrations started becoming more and more elaborate with even pre-marriage functions and birthdays becoming ostentatious affairs. Catering companies mushroomed by the dozen fueled by an increasing demand and the fact that it proved a very lucrative business. However most of them were clones of each other offering more or less the same menus and services. Even now when you look around, there are only a handful of catering companies which stand out in the crowd even though most claim to bring a Michelin star restaurant experience to your home.
The newest entrant in the field of bespoke catering is SelectED Events & Dining; an outdoor luxury catering company which has made quite a mark within a short span of its launch in August 2014. A venture of Arjun Sharma, Chairman of Select Group, Select City Walk Mall & Select Hotels, the tagline of this company is to “Create Magic through Food”. I got a chance to witness this magic first hand when I was invited to a weekend getaway hosted at Heritage Village Resort, Manesar (a unit of Select Hotels) just off the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway, merely 30 minutes away from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The purpose of hosting this event was to showcase the vision of SelectED and the repertoire of its catering services through a three part meal experience; an Afternoon Tea, Cocktails & Dinner and a Brunch. It was meant to create lasting memories and it did. Even though a few months have passed since this event, it is still fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday.
A couple of points stood out for me. For a company which believes in creating a personalized bespoke experience, it hit bull’s eye right from the moment I entered my tastefully decorated room at the resort. Personal touches included my photograph on a cookie perched on top of a cupcake bouquet, a bespoke menu with my name printed and the most beautifully designed takeaway cake. The magic was created right then and there. Full marks to pastry chefs Jeneva Talwar and Kajal Bajaj for the inspired vision and perfect execution.
While decoration and presentation is important, ultimately catering is about food. It has to be spectacular. Curated menus to suit different types of occasions, traditional and exotic cuisines and meal experiences which bring some novelty and have people coming back again and again. So does SelectED score on all these fronts? It does to a large extent. Out of the three-part culinary trail, I was most impressed with the sit-down wine paired dinner. Director Culinaire Gaurav Mathur, with a decade of experience with ITC, had conjured up some imaginative dishes showcasing his culinary creativity by reinterpreting traditional elements in a modern way. The Sarson Mousse with Makki Biscotti, Stuffed Baby Aubergines and String Hoppers with tamarind salsa and Tandoori Atlantic Salmon served with basil pesto, aloo chokha and papaya relish were excellent.
While the Aftenoon Tea preceding the dinner, though extremely elaborate, had a few misses, the next day Brunch with its innovative live stations had some interesting elements like the Baobunwrap with fillings as diverse as charsui pork, lamb rendang, tofu ragout, lemon fried shrimp and crispy fried chicken. I loved the Bajre ki khichdi, Haleem and Gosht Dum Biryani & Kathal Biryani. The Wasabi Ice Cream with toasted sesame was something I had not been served anywhere else in Delhi.
While the food was good, it was presented with a flair and panache depicting professionalism of the highest standard. The company owes a lot of its success to its able CEO Ishaan Sarkar (ex Taj) whose attention to detail and personal bond with his clients will take SelectED Events & Dining a long way. In the catering business it is important to keep pushing the boundaries and coming up with trendsetting food concepts. The team at SelectED knows exactly how to create something beyond mainstream. They are going to be a name to look out for in the future.
A word about the Heritage Village Manesar, an idyllic weekend getaway, situated so close to the capital, yet it escapes our attention when we plan a break. Lush green landscaped lawns, tastefully decorated rooms, pool, spa, multi-cuisine restaurants, conference halls, a mini movie theater; it has it all. It even has a wine cellar with a great selection of wines from across the world at reasonable prices, well certainly cheaper than what one pays for in Delhi. I will always remember the weekend I spent at the spa resort with fondness as I was thoroughly pampered and made to feel special. A satisfied customer as they say is the best recommendation.
By : Lavina Kharkwal