Olive and Twist’s Insta-worthy cafe and its cloud kitchens

“Our first cloud kitchen opened in June 12 this year. By June 12 next year, we plan to have at least 24 to 27 branches functioning across Chennai,” says Farhaz Ahammed, operations head of Olive and Twist Hospitality, the latest food and beverage name in town.

Over the past three months, the team has already had a café — the experimental Canvas By Sketch — a co-working space called One Vibe, above the café in Alwarpet, and two cloud kitchens up and running in Nungambakkam. Two more cloud kitchens, one focussing on simple South Indian fare and another on desserts and bakery items, are in the pipeline.

“Our cloud kitchens are essentially different brands operating out of the same physical kitchen. The food is delivered within a five-kilometre radius,” says Farhaz. “Though each serves a different cuisine, the focus is comfort food.”

Mirchi Bazaar focusses on North Indian cuisines, from parathas to dum biryanis, while Curry on Fire is Asian. “Our third cloud kitchen, called South Market by Sketch, will also operate out of the same kitchen,” he adds.

Sketch is the name of an outdoor catering company that is one of many brands under Apollo Sindoori Hospitality.

But though it is owned by Sindoori Reddy, the woman behind Apollo Sindoori Hospitality and her business partner Sameer Sethi, the team behind Olive and Twist hastens to reiterate that they are not connected to the older group.

They prefer, instead, to be seen as the new and adventurous kid on the block, and Chef Arul Santosh has a large role to play in creating this image.

The man is responsible for training cooks and creating menus for all the initiatives under Olive and Twist Hospitality. He reiterates Farhaz’s statement about the cloud kitchens, saying, “The menus in these are limited, and include the staple favourites. The idea here is not to experiment, but focus instead on standardising across different cities. I can guarantee that it will all taste familiar and authentic, right down to using just the right amount of butter in the dal makhani.” Expect favourites like bhuna gosht and paneer butter masala from Mirchi Bazaar, as well as Thai curries, momos and manchurians from Curry on Fire.

It’s in Canvas by Sketch, adds the chef, that he channels his innovations. From customising preparations for allergies and diet choices to tweaking preparations and playing with coffee brews, this café is his experimental playground, so to speak. “We toss our wontons in chilli sauce, instead of just serving the sauce alongside,” he says by way of example.

The innovations also show in choice of ingredients, like zucchini zoodles and potato starch instead of refined flour. Then there are the pizzettes, with thin crispy crusts and Mediterranean-inspired toppings.

The creativity at Canvas doesn’t restrict itself to the kitchen, it can also be seen in the chic interiors, from pink flamingo murals to a number of Instagrammable corners.

Blatantly targetted at millenials and Gen Z, this cafe is the more clear reflection of the young energy that the group as a whole is trying to put out.

For now, though, the main focus of the team is in expansion of the cloud kitchens. “We can only take orders and deliver food through delivery apps,” says Farhaaz, “But once we have enough different kitchens to coordinate among, we will hire delivery personnel, and move to our very own app.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:02:21 AM |

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