New Delhi: It’s 2.30pm on Thursday afternoon and two beautifully thin models, make-up still perfectly applied and hair still in their tight up-dos, sit down for a late lunch after a runway show at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, the biggest schmooze fest for local couturiers held every year.
Following a round of mineral water, one model ordered the “mile-hi sandwich”, filled with ham, fried egg, cheese and tomato. The other model had a bowl of french fries, which she slowly worked through, cutting each one into tiny pieces with a knife and a fork.
While some models may decide to indulge when they eat at one of the two restaurants at the Fashion Week, the notoriously strict dietary habits of models were kept in mind while creating the menus for the event, said Sumeet Nair, executive director of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), organizer of the event.
Models (L to R) Shruti Agrawal, Mugdha Godse and Gaurie Pandit take time out to dine during the Fashion Week. Despite models’ strict dietary habits, some say oily foods are “okay after a big event”
“Models are very conscious about what they’re eating,” said Nair, who made decisions on the catering. “But we knew that if we were going to keep someone here from 11 in the morning to 11 at night, we have to give them a food experience that is fantastic.”
And with approximately 5,000 people coming to the event every day, there are plenty of mouths to feed.
Olive Bar & Kitchen set up a café, the place where many designers, models and other fashionistas have been spotted chatting over drinks and food this week.
The fare for the diet-conscious includes low-calorie caesar salad with eggless mayonnaise and multi-grain croutons, grilled meats, low-calorie whole-wheat pizza and sugar-free blueberry and mascarpone mousse.
For those who are letting go, there’s the gourmet hot dog, risottos or the “chocolate suicide”—a layered chocolate mousse cake topped with even more chocolate and translucent cinnamon cookie.
Luxury is part of Olive’s panache, with live jazz music playing amid white drapes and lounge sofas surrounded by potted palms.
Prices for most entrees range from Rs200 to Rs550.
Kiran Rao, 33, a model from Bangalore, said on Friday that she ate the “mile-hi sandwich” at Olive Kitchen, following a show. “It was really good,” she said. “I don’t watch what I eat, but it seemed like there were healthy choices.”
Rao said she swims and goes to the gym three times a week.
There’s also the Nokia café, run by restaurateur Rohit Khattar and his catering company, Events Etc. The dining experience is casual and quicker, said FDCI’s Nair. Besides traditional Indian dishes biryani, mutton rogan josh and kebabs, Nair said healthier items such as sushi and a soup and salad bar were added.
By 6pm, the café is typically packed. “Some of the dishes are slightly oily because there’s a lot of people who love that,” said Nair. “But you’ll always find healthy options along with that.”
Events Etc., which was promised by FDCI that it would sell at least 6,000 meals throughout the week, also catered an expansive, buffet-style feast for models and reporters covering the event. Traditional Indian food and Western food, such as chicken a la king, a dish that has the fowl cooked in a thickened sauce, was served.
Nair, who wanted to create a separate café that served only “spa cuisine”, which he describes as no-oil, very low in fat, and very fancy, had to drop the idea because there was not enough space.
“We had to create an environment of luxury, and to me food is an essential part of that,” he said.
Models’ needs were also kept in mind at their hotel, Le Meridien. Natasha Suri, 22, a model from Mumbai, said that after a few models complained the food was too oily, hotel chefs asked the models what they would like to eat during their stay. The models wanted simple grilled foods and fresh steamed vegetables. Lightly buttered with herbs.
“Since you’re in the industry, you want to stay fit,” said Suri backstage before a show by designers Elisha W. and Gauri Bajoria. “It’s part of the expectation.”
Gaurie Pandit, a 24-year-old television model from Mumbai, preferred to lunch at the Nokia Café with her aunt, choosing a soup and salad.
“I wanted something light that would fill me up,” she said. “You have to keep a check on your body in this industry. It’s a requirement to have a fit body.”
Her aunt, designer Renu Tandon, sitting across the table, chuckled. “These models are all very diet-conscious,” she said shaking her head.
The ones who thought they were straying from their tight diets were almost guilty. After the Elisha W. and Gauri Bajoria show, several of the models ate at the banquet hall, dining on Indian food from Events Etc.
“It’s not very healthy. It’s a little fatty, but after a big show it’s okay,” said Mugdha Godse, 24, as she tucked into healthy salad, rice, spinach and daal.