On our new show Gastro Gurus we talk with some of Malaysia’s Food and Beverage professionals to learn about their journey in the industry and share with you their inspiration and some great advice. In this article we feature our conversation with Kartik Kumar, Founder and Director of Jwala and rākh.
Listen to the full interview here.
With 16 years of industry experience around the world Kartik has shared with some important highlights from his colorful journey starting from INDIA where he started his management training at ITC Hotel and was later in charge of managing the Food and Beverage program for the entire 300-room hotel. Next stop was THAILAND where he managed the modern Indian restaurant called Charcoal. And on that fiery note, he then was the operation manager at GAGGAN, a Progressive Indian Cuisine which was voted as Asia’s No.1, reaching to MAlAYSIA.
Kartik’s south Indian roots have always been the spark in his passion for the industry and when the opportunity presented itself he delve into the idea of conceptualizing a modern South Indian restaurant that was true to its roots, NADODI.
After that he embarked on his fiery journey opening the Northern India Restaurant Jwala & the culinary cocktail bar Rakh. The reason I say ‘Fiery’ is because Jwala is the Sanskrit word for Flame and Rakh is the Urdu word for Ashes.
Tell is about the inspiration behind Jwala?
Jwala in Sanskrit is ‘Flame’ the name first of all came from the passion and fire “literal fire” that is required to cook the food and the concept of the place was based on The Spirit Of Fire.
Jwala has received Michelin Guide Opening of the Year Award & was chosen as one of Michelin Selected 2024
Kartik noticed that an upscale dining experience was something that KL was missing at the time and he wanted to honor the North Indian cuisine but with a modern twist where the customer’s experience is authentic yet elevated to keep up with today’s modernity while still paying respect to the traditional menu. Kartik emphasizes on the importance of using a traditional charcoal Tandoor, not gas Tandoor. He wanted to present the connoisseur of KL with the taste of real Tandoor.
What is your vision and ultimate goal for the industry?
Since Malaysia has been a great host for fusion cuisines from all around the world. Kartik said his goal is to bring more cuisines to Malaysia and more adventurous unusual dining experiences as well as Indian Vegetarian food which he expressed is not easy to franchise “we are curry houses, you can’t franchise curry.” He also wishes to see Indian bistro and traditional coffee in Malaysia.
Let’s talk about marketing, what is a top priority when drawing a marketing strategy for a new restaurant?
How do you want to portrait and position your brand? Know your target market. Once you have the data and know who you want to reach out then you can strategize.
“Capture data, evaluate your brand. today’s world is all about data.”
What advice would you give to up and coming Fnb Professional?
He says “ It’s a very difficult industry, challenging and limitless, you can’t platy around and take a chance. Don’t expect an overnight miracle.” Not meaning to be negative but real, he continues how there’s also a very positive and exciting side to industry where you get to meet so many people and face different challenges every day. “if you can take the pressure, this is the right industry for you” He explains, it’s a people-based industry and the skill of managing your man power is at utmost importance.
We hope this conversion has inspired you and allowed you to peek behind the curtains of the great industry of Food an Beverage. Our full interview with Kartik Kumar is available here.