The Flavours of South of France with Shivan and Maxime

Meet Shivan Gupta, a passionate entrepreneur at heart who thrives on perfectionism, beautiful aesthetics and undeniably providing a quality experience to every patron. A chance meeting with French Chef Maxime Montay, lead to Cafe Monique, which successfully brings the taste and experience of French dining to New Delhi. The two have teamed together to create an authenticity without bending to local tastes.

Shivan, a kind soul who doesn’t shy away from hard work, has spearheaded his family business from an early age. He understands the value of building loyalty and working together with his team to innovate and create unique offerings. Today he runs Amaara Farms, a premium wedding venue in New Delhi; Anvaya, an exclusive boutique property and Café Monique, a French Patisserie at The Manor Hotel.

The Monique promise of bringing the Parisian dining experience, came at a time when Covid was at its peak in New Delhi, during the second wave. “What happened was that everyone was used to travelling abroad in the summer. In today’s day and age, it’s all about trying different flavours especially when you are travelling. We, as Indians, are so passionate about food. So, I think that was a very critical point for us because while people wanted to try something else, they were all done. They didn’t want to have the same flavours. Monique was the fresh breath that they all got. We gave them a slice of Europe sitting in the comfort of their home”, says Shivan.

Shivan and Maxime have taken a conscious decision to stay true to the authentic flavours and experience that France has to offer. When asked if they tweaked the menu to adapt it better to Delhi tastes, Shivan is quick to respond, “we were very, very clear that we would not adapt to it. Even if at times Maxime would ask should we look at the preference of the flavour profile, my two cents bit was always that we will stay as authentic as possible”. And the response they received to this has been most overwhelming and encouraging. “And that’s exactly why we are where we are today. The Indian palate has significantly evolved. People have developed a palette for appreciating good quality produce. And that’s exactly what Monique stands for. All our dairy produce and chocolate we import from France and Belgium. So, the minute people would try it, that would be their first reaction. And literally that became a tagline that a bite and you are in the streets of Paris. I would say that while yes, we have a lot of Parisian heritage in our food, it’s leaning is more towards the south of France”.

Chef Maxime, a food engineer, comes from a family background of baking and pastry making. “My family owns a neighbourhood Patisserie in France. So, I’ve grown into it, I’ve seen it, I’ve worked with my family in this. So, it comes from there. And what happened during Covid, I restarted and I reconnected with the roots of baking. And then I met Shivan who also encouraged me to take it to a professional level. So that’s how the journey of Monique started”.

Chef Maxime shares, “when sugar is less, the flavours pop up. Less is more. We try to minimize the sweetness so that the sugar content is never overpowering. One’s palette is not capable of absorbing more than four flavours at a time.” Shivan adds to say that the skill and talent of Maxime, is in producing desserts that are in fact “better than what I would have when I would be travelling in France”.

Maxime has now lived in Delhi for 7 years and is well integrated with Delhi culture and has even picked up a fair amount of Hindi. But how does he see Delhi as a global city on the food scene? “I’ve seen the change in the food scene since let’s say seven years ago and now. Now there is a lot of good food in Delhi, good restaurants, Michelin Star restaurants also are coming. Michelin chefs are also coming. So, there is a real desire for Indians to have very high-quality culinary experiences. People are conscious about quality. At Monique, we are based on quality food and we see the demand for that”.

The culinary landscape of Delhi is getting more competitive each day. It’s a tough business to continuously strive and stay above the competitors and new brands with fresh marketing budgets. So, what keeps Monique ahead? “I think it is our purpose and intent. That’s what sets us apart”, says Shivan. “And while we do that, I’m sure everyone these days is so passionate about food but you’ll see that it’s a choice. For example, in our case, I know that all our dairy is French, our cheeses are all French. What’s the good part about our clientele is that the minute they come, let’s say someone hasn’t tasted our product, they’d be like okay, yeah, it’s expensive. And the next, once the person has tasted it, especially if he understands food and ingredients, the second question is, how are you profitable”? It is not only the quality but also generosity of the ingredients that make you coming back for more.

Coming to the vibe and atmosphere of Parisian dining, how are they recreating that at the Monique Café at Manor? Shivan explains that “our food is very experiential. So, when we think of a cafe, we always think of experience. Why we thought of having Monique first at Anvaya is because the product is such that it encourages and brings the desire of an experience, not just of the senses of what you are eating, of your taste, but even the visual. That’s exactly how we even went about the Cafe at The Manor. And while we did that, and when you come and you experience it, you’ll see exactly the same unfold in front of you. So even the choice of interiors, while other brands in India, whenever they think of French, they make it very cliche and they’ll try to use these certain kinds of elements and things. But we, in our approach, tried to keep it very chique French but very minimal. The France that you are used to seeing today when you go to”. Maxime adds that the presence of nature, the openness of the café is also a conscious choice. So, you feel relaxed, comfortable when you stay at the cafe because it’s very open and it’s a lot of green. It is a bit of luxury in a city like Delhi to experience”.

For an entrepreneur like Shivan who always has his next project in mind, one remains curious to see what he does next. Though he isn’t sharing much yet, he promises it’s going to be another food concept!


The Monique Café is at The Manor Hotel, New Friends Colony, New Delhi. Monique menu is also available on prior reservation at Anvaya at Amaara Farms, Chattarpur, or for delivery on Zomato.

You can also reach them on +9198110 12416.

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