New Food Entrepreneurs – A Special Roundup, The suave owner of TOVO Infusion
Chennai’s foodscape is brimming with innovation and vigour. From new cooking techniques, to quirky interiors and fusion based menus, every restaurateur worth his salt is doing something different to keep his restaurant at the tip of everyone’s palete. RITZ meets six of the most avant-garde entrepreneurs in the food business
He’s registered for a patent for his secret method in which to cook chicken in its own juices. Most of the produce sourced for his kitchen is organic and his is one of the few known restaurants that generates less than eight percent of kitchen waste. RITZ meets Arun Prasanth Bacthavathsalam the young and dashing owner of TOVO, Chennai’s newest hotspot.
What began as a college project Arun Prasanth Bacthavathsalam has today turned into a successful reality for the 20-something entrepreneur. His is one of the most talked about names in food circles today, not because he’s good looking or serves some of the most perfectly cooked meat in town. It’s because of the unique methods used by this youngster to make his restaurant different on every level possible. From dishing up different food, to having the quirky interior prerequisite down pat, to taking things a few steps further and adopting organic produce into the bill of fare and minimising generation of kitchen waste to a nearly negligible number, Arun Prashant has done it all.
“Most restaurants are known to produce huge amounts of kitchen waste. We at TOVO pride ourselves on producing just around 8 percent kitchen waste,” says the proud owner. Arun’s project in college involved research on methods to lessen production of waste generated by restaurants. Though he graduated and landed a cushy corporate job with Barclays, he wasn’t able to put his heart and soul into his work. He felt like he was meant to do something else and gave up his lucrative job and the chance to study further abroad and returned home to put his research to some use.
Arun’s father, a PWD engineer, and the rest of his family were shocked at his decision. Armed with a rock solid business plan he approached a bank for seed money to start his own restaurant. “The initial investment into the project was `2 crore. It cost me a lot because my kitchen equipment is imported from Germany, I had to work tirelessly to get the patent for my secret method to cook chicken in its own juices,” he tells us, refusing to divulge any more details of his famed chicken and its cooking methods.
In just over a year now Arun’s faith in his entrepreneurial project has paid off big time. The city’s foodies love what he’s putting on the table and he says that his turnover is in crores in just the first year of business. Not bad for someone who had zero idea of the working of the restaurant business in Chennai.
Being from Trichy we asked Arun why he picked Chennai to start a conceptual restaurant like this to which he said, “Compared to all the other metro cities the Chennai market was the hardest to penetrate. So if I could succeed here then expanding to other cities after that would be much easier. It was a risk I was willing to take and I guess it paid off.”
The meat served at TOVO is known for being tender, filled with flavour and topped with delicious sauces making it the most delicious and but messy plate in town. Talking about how he gets the meat to be so tender, he first mentions that everything at TOVO is organic. “The best burger is based on the choice of accompaniments the customer chooses”, Arun explains adding that, “There is a base flavour that you choose according to your preference which might be sweet or tangy. Then you pick a sauce that you feel compliments your base notes. If you nail this combination, you have created your own amazing burger! This selection of flavours is a concept unique to TOVO.”
Arun’s personal favourite is the Original Buttery as a base flavour and Hyderabad Spices as the compliment flavour to add that kick of spice that he loves. The way of cooking by infusing the flavours is a whole new concept that Arun is awaiting patent registration for.
TOVO has maintained its high quality of food with a rating of over four on the popular food app Zomato, something very few places manage to do in their first year of business. Arun entered the food industry on a leap of faith, not knowing the outcome, but his positive attitude and his consistency with the quality of food at all his outlets is what has got him where he is today.