#DSSCPowerPackers: Presenting the Game Changers of Delhi’s F&B Industry

The final list of the 3-part series of the #DSSCPowerPackers 2016 Awards are here. Every year we peek through Stevie’s monocle to curate our selection of the top of the pops folks in the Delhi culinary milieu. With many a scratch-outs, surprise additions, and ink stains on our hands, these annual lists are prepared with much care and scrutiny.

You’ve met the women & men who’re raising the bar for Delhi’s F&B scene, it’s time to say hello to the Homegrown brands that have been conceptualised and developed into fantastic culinary stand alone gems. With a resounding drumroll we present to you the #DSSCPowerPackers: Restaurants & Personalities Edition 2016!


Image: Sanjay Ramchandran

Category: Chef of the Year | Winner: Chef Manu Chandra

Chef Manu Chandra is the man behind the spiffy brands Monkey Bar, The Fatty Bao, and Toast & Tonic. There’s no contesting that this reserved gent has gone beyond the role of a chef and gifted the country masterpieces catering to different genres & spending brackets. He’s not only cracked the code for championing diverse cuisines, but also set up his own farm-to-fork supply chain; house cured meats, homegrown shrubs & bitters…no wonder their quality & accessible pricing is hard to match! Along with co-founder, Chetan Rampal, he’s carefully built a rock-solid team that sings from the same hymn sheet and draw inspiration from his painstaking attention to detail, tireless dedication to the craft and pushing the envelope every time. Often known for letting his work speak for him, this culinary posterboy hit home with aspirational and on-trend concepts that share the common fabric of accessible pricing and solid menus that lend their own distinct gravitas to the impressive portfolio of Olive Cafes South Pvt. Ltd. Aiming to build an organised F&B section in this frenzied industry, he’s done it all & more to have the Chef of the Year award sit on his mantle.


Image: Behzad J Larry Photo

Category: Food Entrepreneur of the Year | Winner: Matt Chitharanjan

A #DSSCPowerPacker in the Men’s Edition 2016, Matt Chitharanjan has refashioned the capital’s  perception of coffee. Strong advocates of locally sourced beans, he and his wife Namrata source specialty coffee beans directly from farms across India to churn out sublime coffee experiences at their cafe-cum-roastery, Blue Tokai. The man is a symbol of resilience and perseverance in this fast-paced and hyper-marketed industry, taking his dream from the dining room of his in-laws to two brick-and-mortar cafés in Delhi and Mumbai. Channeling a beverage breakthrough in the country, and with Blue Tokai beans increasingly finding a home on coffee menus across the country, Matt finds a home on our awards as the Food Entrepreneur of the Year.


Category: Best Debut Restaurant | Winner: Ping’s Café Orient

Summer o’ 2016 saw Delhi reorienting its concept of Asian food. Ping’s Café Orient, the third F&B outing of Power Packer Rakshay Dhariwal, opened its doors in the hot season to a rather cool space, offering vegan and gluten-free Asian street food in sync with the healthy eating trend in the capital. The authentic and fun menu, complimented by a buzzing space and prompt service takes you straight to Bangkok. Carrying on Rakshay’s PCO & ATM legacy, the cocktails are made to amaze at Ping’s as well, add to that their zany decor and there’s no dodging a tipsy evening by the time you leave the place. Despite being located in the quiet and tony lanes of Lodhi Colony Market, Ping’s is yet to host a night that’s not teeming with Delhi’s good folks, gliding its way to the Best Debut Restaurant of 2016.


Category: Bar of the Year | Winner: Perch

A one of its kind bar in not just Delhi, but India, Perch Wine & Coffee Bar has changed the way people approach these two pivotal beverages. Their quaint interiors, atypical of a bar, exude a relaxed vibe, encouraging the patrons to make better acquaintances with coffee, wine, and sumptuous European café style food. Vaibhav Singh, also an awardee on the Power Packers 2016 Men’s Edition, says about its genesis, “Somewhere in this country we weren’t giving an interesting subject like coffee the attention it deserved, it was just another hot beverage. So we got a little geeky there and decided to introduce people to the subtleties of coffee. At the same time wine was intimidating to most people, the idea was to make it more accessible and not restricted to fine dining places or five star hotels”. There’s no denying that Perch’s hit that bull’s eye with its exhaustive selection of indie coffee & homegrown and international wine brands. This gem shines through as the Bar of the Year with its innovative use of ingredients in cocktails, served by an ace team who experiments, continually, maintaining high standards of quality with favourable price points.


Category: Best Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year | Winner: Ek Bar

The kitschy Ek Bar has taken indie chic to a whole new level. The men behind the magic, Chefs (and brothers) Sujan and Pujan Sarkar (also a #DSSCPowerPacker in the Men’s Edition 2016) believes in making the ingredient the star of each dish & drink, and has made Ek Bar synonymous with artisanal produce and seasonal menus. It’s not just the ingredient that’s different at this restaurant, but also the innovative techniques in how they use those elements. Their skillful plating skills and well-researched food menu are accompanied by an equally playful cocktails menu that experiments with ingredients that are often taken for granted. Add to that their quirky interiors and you have the recipe for the Best Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year.



Category: Best Fine Dining Restaurant | Winner: Indian Accent

Indian Accent needs no introduction, India’s proud stamp on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (2016) list has breathed back the quiet sophistication of fine dining into Delhi. Spearheaded by the celebrated Chef Manish Mehrotra since 2009, this restaurant brings together the traditional and adventurous sides of food together on one plate, combining traditional Indian palates with ingredients and clever techniques from across the world. Letting the ingredient take centerstage and consistently serving superior quality fare, they’ve made it difficult for Delhi to imagine any celebratory occasion without thinking of Indian Accent. With all that under its belt, it’s no surprise that the restaurant is our Best Fine Dining Restaurant for 2016.


Category: Regional Cuisine Crusader | Winner: Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu

This flag bearer of regional cuisine restaurants in the capital aces the art of serving food reminiscent of grandma’s kitchen. Located in the bustling Adhchini, once Rustom’s doors shut behind you, you’re transported into a traditional Parsi home, replete with glass ceiling lanterns, Parsi antique cabinets and crisp white doilies. This brainchild of Kainaz Contractor and Rahul Dua (both on the Power Packers Women’s 2016 and Men’s 2016 lists respectively), they bring authentic homestyle Parsi food to the table, the recipes and ingredients borrowed from Kainaz’s own family. From Chicken Vindaloo to their  finger-lickin’ prawn pickle, Rustom’s is pushing the envelope of Delhi’s taste buds one dish at a time. Not just the taste, even their pricing makes you feel at home! We adore their attention to detail, as Rahul explains it, “Eventually it’s about figuring out what works for you and following your gut feeling.” In Kainaz’s words, “Most of the cafes that claim to serve Parsi food are actually serving Irani food and that includes your berry pulao. So my whole purpose behind starting Rustom’s was to reintroduce people to real, traditional Parsi food,”- and they sure did, making Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu the Regional Cuisine Crusader of the year.


Category: Best Restaurant Chain of the Year | Winner: Social

Defining modern Indian for us is Social, the too-cool-for-school chain of restaurants which is the country’s only successful day to night, seven days a week concept. Injecting indie quirk across metros, they’ve made wearing local roots as a name tag cool, while maintaining reasonable pricing. Yet another outstanding property from Riyaaz Amlani’s Impressario, Social is ingenious in its utilisation of space & conversion from a co-working space to an informal restro-bar. Undeterred by the many hats the restaurants dons, the brand has only gotten bigger & better, making it the Best Restaurant Chain of the Year.


Category: Patisserie of the Year | Winner: Miam

Just over a year old, Miam by Bani Nanda (also a #DSSCPowerPacker in the Women’s Edition 2016) is already a force to reckon with when it comes to Delhi’s baking milieu. The Le Cordon Bleu graduate had a clear vision for Miam, a patisserie whipping up stunning French entremets, an art in which she’s highly skilled and is constantly upping her game. Bani decidedly steered clear of confirming to Delhi’s likeness for fondant cakes, and challenged the city’s palate with her neo-classical style of cakes and unique flavour combinations, such as the kaffir lime & coconut. In a short span Miam has established itself as a pillar of vision & execution, passion & business acumen, making it the DSSC Power Packer Patisserie of the Year.


Category: Gourmet Caterer of the Year | Winner: CAARA

Curating stellar culinary experiences, Culinary Arts & Research Academy (CAARA) has introduced Delhi to the finest catering services till date. Our personal experience with the ace Flying Buffets, they win the Gourmet Caterer of the Year for their impeccable execution of catering well-thought out menus and a remarkably qualified staff to accomplish that vision seamlessly. CAARA’s commitment to working with local, artisanal produce and serving fresh, preservative-free food exclusively ensures consistent top-notch quality spreads. With that to boot, just like their pesto sauce, CAARA with its home girls Ambika Seth & Alice Helme have made their way into our hearts and on our Power Packer Awards catalogue.


Category: Best Delivery Service of the Year | Winner: Asian Haus & Sushi Haus

A game changer in Delhi’s food delivery business, Asian Haus & Sushi Haus were one of the first to realise the importance of creating an end-to-end user experience in the field. Dishes were no longer plopped in uniform plastic containers, they were instead safely packed as required for each separate dish, ensuring there are no leaks or breaks, with wet wipes to pack in that sanitary punch for the OCD soul. Having perfected the art of combining Indian tastes with authentic Pan-Asian cuisine, they make sure your taste buds relish the authentic flavours, but aren’t too alien for your palate at the same time. With Sushi Haus they singlehandedly demystified the previously intimidating dish by putting it on the supper tables in Delhi’s homes and offices. Not just the presentation, their food too puts a smile on your face every time, and walks away with the Best Delivery Service of the Year award.

And that’s a wrap! 2016 has been a splendid year in the advancement of Food & Beverage industry in Delhi, we hope to enter a new year which takes on from here and soars higher- here’s to more stellar tipples & suppers!