Restaurant & Bar Awards 2022

Page 22 LUX 2022 Restaurant & Bar Awards Roger C. Willi Willson is a very personoriented chef who is never afraid to advance individuals to exceed him, building professionalism and commitment in them for their careers and enabling them to flourish to their capabilities in their particular environments. He said, “I think outside the box, am innovative and questioning, trialling and creating, and I bring my staff to follow these traits. Add to that years of cooking in different cuisines around the world, with over 40 years being in Asia, I bring a creative dining experience to my establishments while at the same time catering to the cultural needs of my different customers.” Roger C. Willi Willson has purely got to where he is today by accident, from becoming a chef after joining the army, to moving from his hometown in New Zealand to Australia to China and finally making India his home. He established Chef Willi’s Restaurants & Consultancy to operate restaurants and other establishments principally under one name and to carry out consultancy work with those who will benefit from his experience. Chef Willi believes that there is nothing unique in what he does – his ethos comes from many years’ experience that say you cannot do everything by yourself, but you need your teams behind you. Mar22024 Chef Willi’s Restaurants & Consultancy Pvt Ltd Best Upscale Restaurant Group – India & Most Innovative Restaurant Consultant (India): Roger C. Willi Willson Over the years, Willi has operated different restaurants with different cuisines, with each being unique in themselves. The Tuscana group he operated previously was known for authentic Italian, Fika is known for modern bistro cuisine, Hibiscus for organic items, and Mechanic’s for resto bar food, with all places catering to the various expectations of their different guests. For example, pasta cooked at Tuscana was very close to the Italian Al Dente, Fika is a little less in keeping with this degree of pasta cooking, while Hibiscus is even less so, as again a different customer base. He is always sure to listen to his guests in their wishes for food items, updating menus to cater for those who are looking for gluten-free, vegan and other sub sections of dietary requirements. Willi also tries to bring in more unusual grains, different super foods, and to head towards a healthier cooking style. Willi’s kitchens are very strict, staying in particular with his branded products, and testing and trialling any new ones that he and his team are looking to introduce, always having recipes and photo backups available for staff to check on, and a very much hands-on approach. Willi stated, “Train, test, train again, and then always check up. I have little patience for meal products that deviate, staff that do not follow instructions and training, staff that feel it is just a job and not a calling, but then again, I build the team, maybe lose my temper occasionally when things go wrong, but I always sit and have a coffee or chat with them afterwards. Analyse when things do not work. Is it me not giving training, support and instructions, or is it the staff member that has got it wrong? My mission is to be creative, bold and utilise products that keep menus up-to-date and innovative, giving the best level of cuisine that the establishment is striving in their market space.” With regards to consultancy, Willi, along with his fellow colleagues in the same field advise and instruct, train and formulate, they support and have a passion for the various establishments they work with. However, the owners in many operations do expect more than the space and resources allows or that they are willing or able to place in to start operations. Willi commented, “A box of LEGO bricks will not build a Taj Mahal, two burners cannot cook an expanding a la carte menu to any degree of professionalism, and extremely hot kitchens make for poor work stamina and high turnover. We work within the boundaries and the best people to work for are the ones who push you, who then listen in return, and we then reach a level of sophistication and quality that ensures we can achieve a quality product, consistently made and served, and with a good steady workforce that is proud to be associated with their name, and mine, of course!” Willi is now doing his consultancy under the umbrella of another company, and, after COVID restrictions and lockdowns, he has seen an increase in prospective clients looking to open their own establishments. He has also observed a number of people getting into more specialised work, including European-style yoghurt making, bean-tobar chocolate establishments, along with an increase in specialised coffee roasting. Chennai is still a difficult market for quality stand along restaurants other than Indianbased. However, a growing customer base is helping as more people are moving into a higher income bracket. There are still a lot of restrictions in force, though, particularly in the non-service of restaurant alcoholic beverages, which adds a dampener to the viability of most new upmarket restaurants. Company: Chef Willi’s Restaurants & Consultancy Pvt Ltd Contact: Chef R. C. Willi Willson Email: [email protected] Website: