Originally from Bangalore, India, Nandakishore Rangan’s desire to become a chef was a combination of personal passion, cultural influences, and wanting to create and share delicious meals with others.
He began his career at Taj Hotels, a chain of luxury hotels headquartered in Mumbai, India. During this time, he earned a diploma in hotel management.
“This is where my thirst for cooking started and exposed me to different cultures and dishes. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to foster relationships with people from all over the globe and mentor other chefs and cooks in the culinary world which gives me great pleasure,” says Rangan, who would go on to serve at several Fairmont properties before joining the Sodexo Live! team at the Vancouver Convention Centre in 2022.
As director of culinary at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Rangan sticks to a culinary philosophy that focuses on simplicity, honesty and locality to create meaningful and delicious cuisine.
“I believe simple food can highlight the natural flavours of the ingredients. It allows the true essence of the food to shine which can be easier to appreciate the individual components of a dish. Honest food refers to transparency in the preparation and sourcing of ingredients. When you know where your food comes from and how it’s prepared, you can trust its quality,” says Rangan.
At the Vancouver Convention Centre, the goal is to embrace local ingredients which is not only environmentally friendly, but also connects food to its cultural and geographical roots.
“It supports local farmers and food producers, ensuring the freshest and most seasonal ingredients. Using local ingredients can also lead to a deeper understanding of the local food culture and provide a sense of community,” he says.
When it comes to meeting and event planning, Rangan’s approach revolves around creating a guest-centric, customized experience while fostering collaboration with clients. “By working closely with the the client, I aim to deliver memorable and successful events that leave a positive and lasting impression,” he says.
Regular meetings and transparent discussions with everyone is key to a successful experience. Everyone also needs to be on the same page when it comes to the vision and budget, cites Rangan.
“I couldn’t do this alone. I am fortunate to have a phenomenal team of food and beverage professionals who are very knowledgeable, skilled and passionate about what they do, he says, adding they can cater to events ranging from 10 to 10,000 people including intimate gatherings, corporate meetings, weddings, and large-scale galas and conferences.
Rangan shares more insights with Corporate Meeting Network about event menu planning and food trends.
What are some food and beverage trends that you’re seeing?
Local ingredients, sustainability, and reducing food waste.
Procuring food and beverage from local sources such as farmers and suppliers is a growing trend which not only supports the local economy but results in seasonal fresh ingredients to our guests.
Sustainability is a top priority. We purchase our seafood and meat from local recognized suppliers who share the same vision as us and invest in sustainable food programs such as Ocean Wise. Our sustainable practices extend to other areas such as reducing food waste and using eco-friendly packaging. Plant based alternative choices continue to be on the rise in popularity due to the increase in ethical eating choices and sustainable food offerings.
We have fostered partnerships with local organizations to repurpose leftovers. The ability to reduce food waste not only has its environmental benefits but also helps combat food insecurity by providing meals to those in need. Further, there seems to be a trend towards going beyond donations by implementing zero waste initiatives such as recycling and composting to reduce the events environmental impact.
What unique services or menus do you offer?
Our culinary team customizes 60 per cent of the menus tailoring our services to the unique preferences and themes of each event. This level of personalization allows our clients to create a menu that reflects their vision.
Some examples of this include buffets and family-style dining , providing an interactive dining experience. And our our high-end gala events often involve elaborate three and four course menu options.
In addition to this we have the inclusion of bistro-style catering where customers can create a casual and cozy dining experience. This may involve setting up food stations or mini retail concepts at their event offering a range of comfort foods and artisanal options.
What are some favourite ingredients?
Some of my favourite ingredients are rice flat noodles, potato, cumin, and dried fenugreek. These ingredients pay homage to my roots but also infuse my cooking with a sense of nostalgia and a personal connection to my cultural heritage. This approach to cooking not only results in delicious food but I am able to share a meaningful story to our customers.
What makes Vancouver stand out as a food city?
We are fortunate to live in Vancouver which is known for its elevated food scene that is marked by its multiculturalism, commitment to local and sustainable ingredients, fusion cuisine, and a thriving food culture that incorporates the city’s beautiful natural surroundings.
Vancouver is home to many talented and innovative chefs who have received national and international recognition. There are 800 restaurants, and that number is growing year over year. We are also very proud to have nine Michelin star restaurants and 17 bib gourmand in our city, which makes this destination the city to be for all our attendees who come for events at the Vancouver Convention Centre.