Founder President of Caterers Association of Goa, Kundan Fogueri speaks to Business Goa about the one-year old organization and the road ahead
How did the Caterers Association of Goa come into being?
The Federation of All India Caterers is an established organization. Most of the members of the FAIC are from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Mumbai (and other parts of Maharashtra) and Delhi. The biggest number of caterers in India are from Gujarat. Some members of FAIC contacted senior caterer from South Goa, Sanjay Naik of Sharada Caterers. He gathered other caterers with the help of Pradosh Amoncar of Amoncar Classic Caterers; and the first meeting was held with 15 plus caterers at Hotel Mandovi. It was a true coming together of the top names in the catering business. That was the beginning of Caterers Association of Goa (CAG).
The catering business in Goa is an extremely competitive one. How did a group of competing professionals decide to come under one banner?
Yes. As you said, the caterers in Goa are a competitive bunch. This is largely because of the way Goa is. As a small place, where everyone knows everyone, often we get pitched against one another for the same assignment. And the point on which we sometimes end up bagging a contract is price. Therefore, we decided that there would be no discussion on prices, as we did not want the price band to come in between us joining hands. The main focus of Caterers Association of Goa is co-operation. And to share know-how and best practices.
We would like to share best business practices with our members. There are lots of seminars, exhibitions and workshops in our field that happen across the country. We would like to share this information and expertise with our members – Kundan Fogueri President, CAG
What is the concept and objectives of Caterers Association of Goa?
As I mentioned, the idea of all caterers coming together is to provide a helping hand. Many a times, we experience emergencies when we are catering out of our zone. With the CAG in place, we can rely on one another to help one another in times of need. Co-operation is our principal objective.
That said, we would also like to share best business practices with our members. There are lots of seminars, exhibitions and workshops in our field that happen across the country. We would like to share this information and expertise with our members, so each one upscales themselves.
One of the focus areas at CAG is hygiene. We want to spread the concept of good hygiene throughout the industry. In fact, at the recently concluded Annual General Meeting, we had with us Mr Salim Veljee, Director of Food & Drugs Administration as the guest of honour. The FDA has assured us training and seminars in how to implement hygiene in our operations. This will benefit our members immensely. Many caterers in the state, will also register themselves with the FDA in the future.
What is the term of the council?
The founding council of Caterers Association of Goa came into operation last year. We have a 14 member council, with a growing member list of 60 plus caterers from across Goa. Pradosh Amoncar of Amoncar Classic Caterers is our Founder-Secretary; Abhijeet Teli of Noda Caterers is our Vice Secretary. Nilesh Tople of Tople Caterers is our Vice President; Abhijeet Walke of Hotel Green Park is the Treasurer; and Deepa Shirgaonkar of Aakashdeep Caterers is the Vice Treasurer. Some of the best names in the catering business are members of CAG.
What are the main challenges in the catering business in Goa?
The price of menus in Goa is much less compared to what it is across the country. Besides, there are some unregistered players who work at ridiculous prices, just to get their foot into the door. Of course, discerning clients understand that established caterers have to invest in infrastructure, staff and systems; and that there is a big organization that runs the show for every professional caterer.
The other challenge is of manpower. There is lack of skilled persons who can handle making specialized food items like Chinese, Mexican, or even rotis and paan. We often have to rely on help from out of Goa for this. And understandably, there is a cost to all this.
How do you tackle the lack of skilled labour issue in the long run?
CAG aspires to start its own institute to train personnel required by the caterers in Goa, someday. We have noticed that even students interning from reputed institutes, need a lot of handholding. This is a tough business to be in. Nothing matches on-ground experience on a day to day basis.
Every day we hear of the unemployment crises in the state. The catering business has a huge direct and indirect impact on employing locals. In my business, I engage 60-70 suppliers, besides transporters, local farmers and even Self Help Groups to procure our raw material.
The Caterers Association of Goa will provide a huge opportunity for employing and skilling Goan youth in the days to come.
Goa is known for ‘destination weddings’. How beneficial is this for local caterers?
Most destination weddings are held at 5 star properties, many of who do not entertain outside caterers. However, the trend is changing and customers are demanding some part of the function to be catered from out of the hotel. Our affiliation with the FAIC is already proving helpful in bagging a slice of the destination wedding business.
What special features does the Caterers Association of Goa bring to the table?
Youthful energy! Most of the members of Caterers Association of Goa are young – in age and in spirit. In fact, I am the youngest president among all caterers associations in the country. Youthful energy brings in fresh ideas, new concept and a vibrant outlook to the functioning of the organization.
What is your vision for Caterers Association of Goa?
As a young entrepreneur, I have noticed a huge change in our business. Today, catering is not just about food, but also about fresh ideas and presentation. I personally feel that locals should be preferred for the catering business. We have the requisite skills and the infrastructure to match any player in the country. Besides, our affiliation with FAIC ensures that we have the best business practices and trends on board.
Caterers coming together is the best thing that has happened to the catering industry in Goa. We have developed a strong bond; and now we can deal with lot of issues faced by Goan caterers unitedly – Pradosh Amoncar Secretary, CAG
What is your target for Caterers Association of Goa?
Our first target is to build a member base of around 120 by year two. We would also like to organize hygiene related seminars. Also, a big cookery show is on the cards.
Overall, we would like to encourage and bring in professionalism in the business of catering.
Caterers have to enjoy respect in the society. At the end of any function, we see that the host walks up to us and offer his thanks and feedback about the food. A compliment from the host is our biggest award. We will constantly engage to build professionalism in the business