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Taj’s ex-chief chef, NRI billionaire tie up for food biz


Mumbai: Legendary chef Hemant Oberoi, who retired from Taj hotels after more than four decades, has been roped in by Gill Capital, owned by Punjab-born, Singapore-based billionaire Jagdev Singh Gill, to whip up the fine-dining business.

Gill Capital owns the franchisee rights of retail brand H&M in Thailand and Indonesia, operates the Candylicious and Hershey’s chocolate stores in Singapore and Malaysia, and runs the Brunetti cafe and Soma bar in Singapore. The 64-year-old businessman has collaborated with Oberoi to rev up the Indian-themed brand, Yantra, which now has the star chef’s name attached to it.

The restaurant Yantra by Hemant Oberoi is in line with the growing trend of culinary gurus lending their names to restaurants and sharing the profits. For instance, Japanese cuisine specialist Masaharu Morimoto has lent his name to Wasabi in a similar fashion. Wasabi by Morimoto, housed at Taj’s flagship Mumbai and New Delhi hotels, is one of the most sought-after restaurants in both the metros. “Partnering with celebrity chefs helps in drawing avid foodies,” said Achin Khanna, MD, HVS, a hotel consulting firm. He added, “It also aids in charging a premium as the menu is designed by them.”

Yantra was launched seven years ago in Singapore, but shut some time ago. With Gill Capital approaching Oberoi to revive the venture, a revamped restaurant will open its doors to guests soon. “Everything about the restaurant has been changed – from the decor to the menu,” said Oberoi, who has become a culinary consultant. Oberoi has a five-year-deal with Gill Capital for Yantra, which he described as a second innings for him.

Oberoi, 62, started his cooking career with Taj and over the years rose to become the hospitality chain’s chief chef. He retired early last year and the Taj retained him as a consultant for a year. The term ended recently.

A couple of years ago, the Singapore-based, India- and Southeast Asia-focused private equity fund Everstone Capital had brought on board renowned chef Vicky Ratnani as culinary director to strengthen its food and beverage portfolio. Everstone Capital operates Spaghetti Kitchen, Noodle Bar, Coffee Chimney and Pind Balluchi, among others.

Source: TOI

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