L’Opéra, India’s most popular & authentic French Pâtisserie, Boulangerie, Salon de Thé (Tea Room) and Café Restaurant was granted a special place at the India Art Fair this year as the only art exhibition to feature the culinary arts as well as the only place to enjoy a meal, snack or drink within the exhibition area next to paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other works of art.

The India Art Fair features special exhibitions and events from many of the most prominent artists of the country, as well as a number of select artists from around the world. It took place from January 30th to February 2nd, 2020. L’Opéra also participated in the 2019 Art Fair, but this year’s Art Café was even larger and more beautiful, with seating for up to 40 guests, colorful flowers displayed on fabulous Louis XVI-style marble tables, vibrant photography of Paris displayed on classical wall panels, and a 10-foot tall white model of the Eiffel Tower loaned to L’Opéra from the French Institute and facilitated by the French Embassy itself.

Designer Paul Mathieu from France, visiting Delhi in order to attend the Art Fair enjoyed a Sandwich and remarked on the authenticity of the L’Opéra installation and its Salon de Thé menu. He favorably compared them to the style he was used to back home, calling it “a ‘Paris moment’ just like cafés of France”.

L’Opéra Executive Chairman Kazem Samandari explained how the L’Opéra Art Café fits into the larger picture of the Art Fair, not merely as a place to enjoy a meal, treat or drink within the exhibition area, but as an art exhibition in its own right: “Culinary art, in the French view, is perceived not only as an experience for your tastebuds and palette, but a complex harmony of delights for eyes, ears and palette. This Art Café represents a total immersive experience: a holistic combination of the visual arts, in terms of the authentic French ambience, as well as a contribution to the sense of taste that only the culinary arts can offer.”

The L’Opéra culinary exhibition received an abundance of guests, and was often filled to overflowing throughout the day. Mr. Samandari himself enthusiastically engaged with customers during the India Art Fair. Also among the guests were a number of recognizable names, such as actress Sonam Kapoor, and Ambassadors from various countries, such as Brazil, South Korea, and Canada.

 

L’Opéra, India’s first authentic French Pastry, Bakery and Salon de Thé (Tea Room) has come up with its first-ever vegan range. Especially safe for veganism followers and suitable for the health conscious, one can enjoy the authentic French flavours guilt-free without compromising on the taste.

On offer are verrines in flavour of Chocolate Caramel and Vanilla & Raspberry, Almond Tart, Chocolate Tart and macarons in variants of Raspberry, Pistachio and Chocolate. The brand also offers a wide range of eggless products such as pastries, cakes, eggless quiches and sandwiches, biscuits, Viennese and croissants that could be made eggless on request and are suitable to consume during the Navratras or while observing other Hindu Fasting periods.

Today, the customers are even more aware of what they eat and live a conscious life. Healthier living and veganism is an upcoming trend and something that we want to support through our vegan range

-Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, L’Opéra

“We believe that veganism is rapidly growing and this could be gauged from the fact that a number of vegan cafe have come up really fast all around,” says Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, L’Opéra.  He adds: “L’Opéra has launched the new vegan line that has been introduced across all our outlets. For our vegan range, we have used Margarine that is mainly made of refined vegetable oil and water instead of butter and water and fruit juice instead of cream and milk. There’s also our large variety of eggless products that one can choose from, especially for the upcoming Navratras.”

L’Opéra’s new vegan range and eggless products are available at all outlets. To order online, visit www.loperaindia.com or call 0120-4066888. Also Available on Zomato and Swiggy in select stores. Follow @loperaindia on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

 

VEGAN RANGE

  1. Chocolate Caramel Verrine – A vegan chocolate sponge layered with vegan peanut caramel, dark chocolate vegan ganache & roasted peanuts.
  2. Vanilla & Raspberry Verrine – A vegan vanilla sponge layered with vegan Vanilla cream, Raspberry jam and garnished with Passion Fruit crumble.
  3. Almond Tart – A sweet vegan pastry with vegan frangipani cream and glazed almonds.
  4. Chocolate Tart – A sweet vegan pastry filled with dark vegan chocolate ganache with a vegan glaze.
  5. Vegan macarons in variants of Raspberry, Pistachio and Chocolate

—By Anupma Mishra

 

Kazem Samandari (left from centre) along with the recipients and officials at the Residence of France on Thursday, August 22, 2019

 

People may depart from the world, their memories do not.

Keeping the memories of elder brother Bahman Samandari alive, Mr. Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman of L’Opéra, a high-end French Pastry, Bakery and Salon de Thé, and his family have instituted the Bahman Samandari Scholarship in partnership with the French Embassy and the French Institute in India.

Kazem Samandari along with Sambhavi Joshi, the recipient of the Bahman Samandari Scholarship 2019 (August 22, 2019)

On Thursday (August 22, 2019), Mr. Samandari met Sambhavi Joshi, this year’s recipient of the Scholarship who will follow her aspirations to pursue higher studies in the Culinary Arts at École Ferrières, Paris during a special felicitation ceremony held at the Residence of France (Ambassador’s residence). Sambhavi, a graduate of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi will benefit from a monthly allowance to cover living costs in France, visa and campus fee waivers. Also, in attendance were the second batch of awardees along with other scholarship founders at the Embassy of France in New Delhi.

 

“My brother, Bahman Samandari, in whose name this scholarship has been established, believed profoundly in the power of education to establish a better world, in which all would live in peace, harmony and unity. He gave his all to this ideal. My wife Christine and our son Laurent join me in wishing the students all the very best.”

Mr. Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, L’Opéra

 

Bahman Samandari, an Iranian Baha’i influenced the lives of many positively.
He worked for many years with a large number of youths to meet their educational needs and dedicated his life to promoting peace and understanding among people.

The Scholarship annually calls for applications for Master’s, Exchange and
short-term study programmes in Culinary Arts.

 

More about the scholarship

1. To qualify, you must be a resident and citizen of India and at least 18 years of age or above.

2. Selection Process happens through online application and Telephonic/Skype interviews conducted by the French Institute in India.

—By Anupma Mishra

 

 

Team L’Opéra during a group activity at the Training session

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”

—Bill Copeland, an American poet, writer and historian

 

How important it is to dream, to set your goalpost, and more importantly, to not shift the goalpost every now and then in challenging circumstances in order to become successful and prove your worth to others?

To answer all these questions, one would need to take a good look deep within and introspect. To facilitate the same, L’Opéra recently organised a full-day training session on “Goal Setting: Good to Great” for its managerial staff. The programme was hosted at Max Towers, Noida that also houses one of its biggest Salon de Thé outlets (over 1500 sq. ft) and was conducted by Shaina Malhotra, a Corporate Trainer, Image Consultant and Coach with over 20 years of award-winning experience in managing sales teams. In a corporate experience that spans over 15 years with Citibank N.A., Shaina has managed Pan-India teams and was the Sales Director for the Bank’s Pan-India Phone-based sales business. She was also the Service Manager for Assets & Insurance Business.

The training “Goal Setting: Good to Great” in progress

Attended by staff members from various departments including Accounts & Finance, Kitchen, Marketing & Communication, Sales and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to name a few, the session focused on helping oneself understand better to achieve the set goals. It also covered growth-oriented topics such as setting smart goals, defining one’s personal brand, the importance of Perception and how to be successful and achieve goals that were taught via fun and engaging group activities, inspiring videos and stories for effective learning.

Team members playing Chess during a short break at L’Opera’s biggest outlet at Max Towers, Noida

Using various tools and techniques, the programme also emphasised on how in today’s day and age, one’s expertise in subject matter and skill-set are not just good enough to becoming a successful professional. In fact, a good attitude, developing good habits to put you on the growth-path and soft skills are crucial qualities that one must learn in order to become both effective and efficient.

The Mantra: Do not try to change others. Instead, bring the change in yourself and set smart goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timeline-bound to achieve every single target that you aim for.

About the company 
L’Opéra is India’s first authentic French Patisserie, Boulangerie and Salon de Thé with 17 outlets across Delhi-NCR and Dehradun.

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Twitter: @l’Operaindia

Team L’Opéra after the successful completion of the training programme

—By Anupma Mishra

 

L’Opéra, India’s first authentic French Pâtisserie, Boulangerie and Salon de Thé has always been known for the impeccable quality of its products.

In order to maintain the exacting standards of perfection and elegance, L’Opéra has consistently invested in distinguished culinary experts from France to work the magic into the kitchen.  In the past, L’Opéra invited over renowned names such as Chef Jean-Louis Clément who has also worked with Lenôtre. Founded by the famous Chef Gaston Lenôtre, who is widely known to have rejuvenated the art of pastry making in the early 1960s, the brand boasts of restaurants, catering, retail and a cooking school, which embodies French savoir-vivre and savoir-faire, especially in the art of pastry. It has also trained famous French chefs including Pierre Hermé, one of the leading pastry chefs who was also awarded the title of World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2016.

Chef Gilles Maisonneuve

This time around, the founders have called in Chef Gilles Maisonneuve. A Lenôtre alumni, Chef Gilles has worked and studied under Chef Clément and has over 30 years of experience in the pastry industry. He has conducted numerous demonstrations and was responsible for the creation of the dessert menu at Hotel Ritz, Paris as Deputy Head Pastry Chef.

He later moved to The French School of Gastronomy called Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Over the years, he developed training programs for French Culinary Art in Japan, Brazil, and the United States of America. After Ritz Escoffier, Chef Gilles continued his career as a Professor & Pastry Consultant. He also developed the “Masterclass” Intensive Training Program and created “The Art of Macarons” course, which won the European Grand Prix for Innovation Awards in 2005.

“The reason behind inviting the foreign culinary experts periodically is to maintain the authenticity of our products and enhance our customers’ experience. Last time, Chef Clément was kind enough to add his years of valuable experience to our products. This time, Chef Gilles added his Midas touch and we really appreciate his presence,” says Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, L’Opéra that was born out of the founding family’s longing for authentic French breads and pastries in India. Since its inception in 2008, the family ensured that the patrons enjoy a complete and authentic French experience and is now setting a new trend in the Indian market for high-end culinary products.

Chef Gilles at L’Opéra’s production facility in Noida.

Back at the production facility in Noida, Chef Gilles is involved in a lot of things right from working with chefs on improving presentation to introducing new products at L’Opéra. “I find people here very hard-working. They want to see, understand and learn new things which is very important,” says the ever-smiling Chef as he puts together a new product.

“After working in their kitchen for quite some time, I can say that it is commendable,” says the Chef. “For example, the chocolate discs or rings around the Mango Mousse Tart is impeccable. The glazing technique is perfect in terms of the movement and precision. They have stuck to the traditional French recipes. That is quite impressive, he adds. “I personally liked the Opéra cake, Mille Feuille and Lemon Tart. I am focusing on the design and presentation such as slimmer pastries for a better presentation and re-adjusting ingredients for proportions. Then I am also working on new products for L’Opéra using coconut, seasonal and exotic fruits which will be revealed over time.”

To better understand the brand, Chef Gilles visited several of L’Opéra’s outlets at Green Park, Bikaner House and Max Towers, Noida at the outset of the project . “I must say that the outlets are as French as it could get. The music, the ambience as well as the products transport you back to France instantly. So, it’s imperative that the food quality resonates with the ambience and the fact that L’Opéra pulled it off despite the warm climate and other challenges is really impressive,” says the Chef.

For Chef Asees Shah Singh, Head Pastry Chef at L’Opéra, it is always a learning experience to work with the visiting chefs. “With Chef Gilles, I saw interesting things like Inverted puff pastry where the butter is the outer layer and the dough is folded inside. He also laid emphasis on adequate temperatures, time and techniques while prepping for specific puff pastry products that showed great results when executed in the exact same manner,” he says.

(From left) Laurent, Christine and Kazem Samandari

To Chef Gilles, training young chefs is all about passing on the teachings that he received from his teachers to the next generation.

“I always underline the importance of respecting the products, maintaining hygiene ]and cleanliness of the workstation and tools at all times and keeping the look and taste of products uniform all through in terms of shapes and ingredients,” he continues.

Work apart, Chef Gilles, who is visiting India for the first time, is also upbeat about visiting the Taj Mahal.

“For me, India is all about colors. I found people here polite and helpful and the best thing is the Taj Mahal which I wish I could make time for during my stay,” he says.

 

-By Anupma Mishra, L’Opéra

 

Learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom.

For Shawn McQueen-Ruggeiro, an NGO worker in Uganda, a visit to L’Opéra’s production facility in Noida was no less than a classroom experience. “My NGO is looking to start a cupcake bakery as an income-generating activity for the mothers of the girls we support. I was particularly interested in the difficulties and barriers of bringing such a high-end product to the marketplace in India, where refrigeration, energy, transportation and quality control are barriers which must be overcome,” he says.

At L’Opéra, being able to fully understand just how complex the operation is from procuring raw material to placing pastries on the shelf was very interesting,”

-Hema Vallabh

Reema Mehra, another student and a discerning lover of food and baked goods has taken the sweet memories back home. “I absolutely loved the L’Opéra experience and it was one of the most fascinating, passionate, and sweet (pun intended!) experiences while in Delhi. The brand is a true example of an inspiring SME that has succeeded in an emerging market and will continue to grow its wings, no doubt.”

“Kazem’s passion is so palpable, you can almost taste it in his pastries,” says Hema Vallabh, who is also a successful entrepreneur. “It’s a capital-intensive business in a price-sensitive market but I think L’Opéra has great potential for growth in certain parts of the country,” she adds.

“That there is real added value in having a business run by a family, and that – with the right and determination – everything is possible.”

-Elvira de Jong

Shawn, along with Hema and Reema, belong to the 25-member Executive MBA students’ group from Saïd Business School, Oxford University that was visiting L’Opéra as part of the international module–The Global Rules of the Game to help students understand the landscape and the challenges of doing business in emerging markets by witnessing the day-to-day operations of companies and challenges they face first-hand. India’s status as the world’s third largest incubator of New Economy start-ups made the country a key destination for the programme.

For the School, L’Opéra was an obvious choice.

From using the French Embassy kitchen to now owning a 12,000 sq ft production facility in Noida, L’Opéra has travelled a long way that spans a decade to become the foremost patisserie, boulangerie and Salon de Thé in Delhi-NCR. An Indian brand founded and run by a French family, the brand now plans to open another 60 outlets in the next five years.

Sitting in his office in Noida, Kazem Samandari, executive chairman, L’Opéra is listening to all the responses intently. The man, who is rarely seen without his phone (owing to the nature of his business), has kept it aside in order to avoid any possible distraction.

“L’Opéra runs on passion. The enthusiasm from the founder oozes in its products. I wish  L’Opéra  great success!”

-Anya Roy

“Although they were the students, it felt as if we were writing exams in front of them and I do think that we passed them with flying colours,” says the 68-year-old founder and a qualified engineer by profession whose expertise include promoting hi-tech start-ups in Asia. “But my heart lies with L’Opéra,” he says as he signs few cheques, briefs his staff on the brand’s biggest outlet at Max Towers, Noida and finally sits down to some coffee and croissants before heading into a business review meeting with the senior leadership.

“By showing your back-end, you always risk disappointing people,” he continues. “Though I could see that the students could see our commitment to quality and excellence but as everything else in life, there is always room for innovation and improvement.”

Establishing a business in India comes with its unique set of challenges. L’Opéra is not immune to problems such as lack of infrastructure, reliability of suppliers and procurement of raw material rear its head every now then. “Utilities such as electricity and water; the transport restrictions in Delhi with respect to vehicles; the condition of roads which makes the movement of delicate products problematic,” says Kazem. “We face problems with identification and training of qualified personnel; the ever-changing regulations and import duties and non-conducive climatic conditions in summer for our type of products are few challenges for us,” he adds.

“The passion L’Opéra exudes in bringing quality and excellence is directly experienced in their food. Delicious!”

-Shawn McQueen-Ruggeiro

Elvira de Jong, another student who has lived in Paris has a different take on this. “From an outside perspective, the leverage appeared high. The immense population and growing middle class seem to provide for big opportunities. I think the challenge is to reduce production costs while maintaining the quality. If they succeed in this, the sky is the limit,” she says.

Challenges notwithstanding, the brand will continue to expand across the country. “India is a fast-growing market, particularly in the line of Food and Beverage,” says Laurent Samandari, managing director and the brain behind L’Opéra. “Despite the challenges, we have decided to keep up with our expansion plans throughout the country and open new stores, particularly in the southern part of India,”.

“L’Opéra combines the vision and the courage of what an entrepreneur can do”

-Mazen Ghafeer

The dynamic nature of emerging markets plays a major role in shaping the future of entrepreneurs. Though, for Samandaris, there’s only one thing that could make a business work anywhere in the world. “For a business to succeed anywhere in the world, a systematic approach will help you surmount difficulties,” says Kazem. “In the contemporary world, where the planning horizon is much shorter and the commitment less pronounced, we decided to go with a systematic approach when conceiving, planning and executing the 10-year business plan. And that’s my advice to all the aspiring entrepreneurs. ”

 

By Anupma Mishra, L’Opéra