We Indians love to party, celebrate and throw a bash at the drop of a hat. Be it a birthday celebration, entertaining friends at home or something as huge as a wedding, we as individuals love to give it a 100% to it. It is rumoured that parents work hard all their lives to spend it in one go hosting a grand wedding for their children. Most would think, the ambition is too superficial, but as a society, a large-hearted host with a flair for style is what a lot of us secretly or at times openly aspire to be.
An ambition to be the most talked about host needs to be combined with an equally innovative and personal Event organizer, who takes your passion and delivers in a manner customized only for you. SelectED Events & Dining does exactly that and brings a customized experience, very similar to a Michelin Star one, to you rather than you taking the trouble of going to it. A perfectionist and an avid art collector, Arjun Sharma (the chairman of SELECT Group) known for his subtle sense of luxury and affinity to design gives Select Events & Dining the necessary “edge”.
The team of SelectED believes that a bespoke experience has to be controlled by a Master Curator and that is where they come in.
One does feel significant when one is SelectED for an experience so bespoke, that it takes personalization to a completely different level. Why I say this is because I had good fortune of being SelectED for a three meal experience at their Heritage Village resort in Manesar, an hour’s drive from Delhi and 30 minutes from Gurgaon. A property commissioned in the late 1990s designed with a mix of traditional classical vocabulary and contemporary interiors, the motifs and grand arches greet you right at the entrance. Manicured lawns, organic landscape with clusters of rooms built around a courtyard, transfers the guests into an era of Havelis.
The invite however was to experience something entirely different. A three meal experience by SelectED, as we walked in my family and I were checked into the resort in the most personalized, efficient and delightful way. Escorted by a member from the SelectED team to our room after a refreshing Watermelon cooler and a traditional Indian welcome, our chaperone animatedly explained to us how the 2 days were planned for the adults and the kids. The pleasant surprise as we entered the room was a personalized cupcake bouquet (with a picture of the guest on a cookie) which the kids fell in love with and we were floored by such attention to detail. The list of guests was short but distinguished and SelectED over and above that seemed to have mastered the knack of making each one feel like a member of the royal family gearing up for a royal event.
The bespoke event started with the High Tea. A concept alien to us before 20th century or more precisely a legacy of the British, High Tea has evolved into a full-fledged meal before dinner, though an air of snobbery still surrounds it. So as expected the spread was monumental and the build-up of expectations huge for the first bespoke meal. SelectED fused the now-Indian concept of “Shaam ki Chai” (Evening Tea) with a High Tea and kept its best foot forward to present to us a spread so lavish, that it seemed to me a little over the top. I would have preferred a consolidated menu of specific items but flowing from one to another. This overzealous treatment of the High Tea left me a bit confused whether to gorge on the fried items or check out the street snacks, while I try a milk shake with cookies. The kids loved the variety but I this seemed more like a hurried attempt to me, which I did express to the Chef and the host Ishaan, like I would have if I was part of a wedding they were catering to. Much to my pleasure they were receptive and the next two experiences were sublime and beyond words, still I would try.
But something about food which is laid out so well and with such passion, does make me gorge, and gorge is what I did. The Cocktails and Dinner was up next, so a quick swim at the resort pool was the only way to work up an appetite for the evening. And glad I did that because the dinner that was an affair to remember. Cocktails along with the hors-d’oeuvres were delectable, with bar tenders taking care of the drinks in a professional and efficient manner.
Whether it was the Lychee and Prunes stuffed with Wasabi feta to offer a unique concoction of seemingly opposite flavours, or Bi-fing Prawns placed in ceramic spoons, a benchmark of great food with immaculate presentation, the food and the service had that edge to it. This extra zing from the attention to detail is what sets SelectED apart, for me. Even a simple fusion of Golconda meat with Ajwaini Crips which were devoured by the no. stood out subtly. Though, the guests were spoilt for choices with some signature cocktails from SelectED’s bar, I enjoyed my beers (a couple, since this time I had to walk and not drive back to my room) and headed for the well laid out dining room. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the highlight for both the guests and SelectED. And, though perfection is hard to achieve, if a host managed a sit down dinner like this for his or her guests, it would be something which would be talked about for long in his circles.
The Sit-down Dinner with silver service was a STATEMENT, a statement which captured the radiance of SelectED and its concept. As for the guests, we were dazzled as soon as the huge wood panelled doors revealed the dining space. Victorian chandeliers showering a diffused yellow light on the tables, along with the back lit Corian wall panels with leafy motifs and Brass coloured metallic chairs all set the scene for royal feast. Ushered to the designated spots which were marked by name cards, we settled only to be greeted by a personalized menu. The mood already alleviated further by such bespoke service, the courses of food that flowed were subtle yet individualistic in flavours and beyond delectable. Something quite simple like Makki di Roti and Sarson the Saag, staple food of Punjab, is presented in the form of Sarson ka Saag Mousse with Makki Biscotti. Keeping the flavour intact and not altering ingredients from the original, only the presentation and the combination changed this staple dish into an innovative first course.
The courses, as the meal progressed, showed the ingenuity of the kitchen team. The String Hoppers with Lobster grilled to perfection served with a Saffron Gravy dealt with Mustrad Cress just made the meal more savoury. Lobster which itself has a distinctive taste, was complemented by the Saffron cream sauce and mustard, all ingredients having a strong presence on your palate. Coupled together it was an explosive dish. A Sugarcane Granita (a crushed ice drink) was a welcome break just before the star of the evening arrived. Who would think a boring Khichadi (A rice and lentil preparation) can be made so delectable by adding Pulled Lamb to team it up with Lamb Chops. I however did not stop there and orderd the non vegetarian option of Murgh Nahari with Pulled chicken Khicadi. The lamb chops were no doubt the show stopper for me. The culmination was the dessert platter with a Gulab Jamun Tart, Tiramisu Ghevar and a Chocolate Cup, sweets were never my strong point.
You would realize that the food was delectable and well thought of, but the USP was the butler service, attention to detail, never over the top and the server realizing what the guest desired before they even asked. There were 2 tables of 15 each and each of the 30 guests was WOWed by this curated experience. It was like being among friends (considering a lot of us were strangers a few hours ago) and Ishaan Sarkar, the CEO of SelectED, in tow with Chef Gaurav Mathur along with the resort GM Gopal Vaideswaran, left no stone unturned to make all of us feel at home.
A sound sleep, a few kms jog and another quick swim, I was ready to take on the mighty Brunch which our host had given hints would be the most elaborate affair. Being an early riser, and the brunch scheduled for 10.30 am, I was the first one to raid the brunch menu, which was setup both outdoors and indoors. Simply putting it, the brunch was exquisite. A perfect blend of a relaxed “after morning” food and exclusive fare which is available at high end brunches through 5-star properties, SelectED proved that they don’t do anything thoughtlessly. Even an informal brunch had the team burning midnight oil, literally. And, this shown amply in the extravagant spread they had laid out for the guests.
From the usual suspects at a breakfast spread Cold cuts, Fresh fruits, Eggs station, Sausages, bacon and many more, there were first time surprises like Baobun Wraps. A live station for Steamed Baos with mouth watering filling like Charsui Pork, Shrimps, Chicken & Tofu, this one had each one of the guest vying for a plateful. A Jhinga (Prawn) cooked on “dum” gave the Biryani and the steam rice a great accompaniment. I could go on and about the meat and veggie selection on the Tawa and would fill entire pages with description.
The lazy Sunday morning, the setting informal, the servers cheerful, the food filling, the beer flowing and the banter playful, SelectED ended the experience professionally on an extremely high note. They have etched themselves as Master Curators of events and dining. Ishaan along with Chef Gaurav have truly been behind the germination of this Haute-cuisine driven catering company. We were first hand witnesses to the mantra the SelectED team breathes i.e. “Creating magic through food” and the experience was a fairytale one.
A truly Customized Experience, I would definitely recommend SelectED if you are looking to have a magical bespoke catering experience.