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We recently reported on the strong showing by Les Roches alumni-owned establishments in the 2018 Condé Nast Traveller’s Top Restaurant Awards for India.
Black Sheep Bistro in Goa was a notable performer, in 15th place overall. This is a sweet success indeed for Sabreen and Prahlad Sukhtankar, both class of 2005 alumni, who staked everything on the restaurant’s success and are now benefiting from their bravery.
Sabreen explains, “Financing the business was difficult. We had invested all of our savings and taken a huge bank loan. So the risk was very high as we had put everything into this one basket. We were especially worried about disappointing our families who, at the time, were of the opinion that we had left secure jobs with multinational companies like Four Seasons and Shangri-La to do something they didn’t fully comprehend. So the pressure was definitely on!”
Prahlad adds, “Even our chosen name, Black Sheep, came from the fact that we wanted to do things differently in the market. Since our concept was not traditional, there were many doubts among our peers, family and well-wishers. And rightly so, since we did not have any prior business experience. Everyone was worried about us because they genuinely wanted us to succeed.”
Both Sabreen and Prahlad credit their Les Roches education for setting them on the journey to entrepreneurial success, even though their post-graduation path began as employees of major hotel groups.
“Our business today is a culmination of our life experiences. So there is not one element which we rely on; more a case of using a mix of everything that we have learned over the years.” says Sabreen.
None of this would have been possible without the good foundation we received at Les Roches.
So what can diners expect to find at Black Sheep Bistro – or BSB as it’s generally known? Freshness, first and foremost, since the restaurant is among India’s pioneers of ‘farm to table’ local sourcing.
“We try and source our produce, including seafood, within 100 miles of the restaurant,” says Prahlad. “It is healthier, fresher and a much better option than imported fish or vegetables, which have had to travel several days to get to your plate. Our seasonal menu at BSB ensures guests get only the freshest produce all year round.”
Hand-crafted cocktails are also a big element of the Black Sheep experience. Prahlad is one of just a handful of sommeliers of wines and spirits in India, accredited by The International Sommelier Guild.
He says, “We were one of the first restaurants in the country to use only fresh ingredients in our cocktails, with no artificial mixers or syrups. In India, we are limited in any case by the lack of availability of manufactured mixers. So we looked at what we could get in our markets. We use indigenous herbs, spices and fruits to create our concoctions.”
Now the Sukhtankars are hard at work creating their brand new restaurant concept, to be called Blackmarket.
“Our new restaurant is going to be a bit rebellious,” says Sabreen.
“Our goal is to revive our wonderful city of Panaji, Goa, take pride in its history and share it with the world. The restaurant will focus on food and related experiences which are not available elsewhere. We will make every effort to redefine and re-invent recipes; innovating while keeping food relatable to locals and taking the stories of our land to our guests.
“We will also try to encourage our community of farmers and local producers to take pride in their produce, helping them to showcase it to the world. And we will highlight local artists and local entrepreneurs who are part of the Goan ethos, as well as revealing the lesser known history of prohibition in India and its connection to Goan artists.”
With such a multicultural student body, Les Roches spreads its influence far and wide. But for Prahlad the Indian state of Goa is one of the real hotspots for the school’s alumni.
“I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say I have met more Les Roches students in Goa than anywhere else in the world,” he says. “Goa is a magnet not just for Indians but for the world at large. I have met Les Roches students from all over the world in Goa and I am in touch with several of them. For example, Sumit and Chiquita Gulati own a restaurant called Spice Market in Delhi; Shagun Mehra is a food stylist based in Goa; while several Goan ex-Les Roches students are either running restaurants or involved in their parents’ hotel companies. And there are many more…”
To find out more about Black Sheep Bistro, visit the website
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