Dev Raturi : On A Foodhardy Endeavour To Unite Cultures

Dev Raturi,  Founder

Dev Raturi


Over the years, Indian cuisine has been much discussed, written about, and criticised both domestically and abroad. Numerous reports, articles, and extracts dispersed over the internet's length and breadth tell us how frequently important figures have gotten together at food conferences (or other events) to talk about the socio-political ramifications and effects of the same. However much we might like to separate politics from food and brush it off as a matter of personal taste, we cannot possibly ignore the long lasting effects one seemingly insignificant change in eating habits or preferences might have. It has been nothing short of interesting to learn about how this road began 6000 years ago (as is recorded), when the Aryans crossed the borders of our nation and introduced a complex array of fusion foods beyond the usual chai tea latte, curry, and tikka masala. This tale just keeps becoming richer by the day, one mouthful at a time, and is an intriguing deep dive into the macrocosm of daal chawal, roti sabzi, and more.

Each country has its own food and history, and cultures are often defined by the cuisine that they produce. In South Asia, family and food play a particularly central role in day-to-day life. It is very common for families to invite guests over, be them relatives, friends and, sometimes, even mere acquaintances. This is reflected by the common phrase in Hindi and Urdu: "Mehman Bhagwan hota hai" The guest is God.

Only a few business moguls think food can transcend geopolitical borders and unite hearts. Dev Raturi is one among the visionaries. Yes, Dev Raturi, the actor.

However, little do we know about this actor turned entrepreneur. The man is a personified strong will.

Hailing from a humble financial background, wherein the childhood was seldom opportune with even the basic necessities of life, Dev Raturi has shown the world that your situation is only temporary, but success is a constant of resilience. As for Dev, not in his wildest dreams he had ever thought about becoming an actor, let alone an entrepreneur.

Growth like no other
To support his family and to pursue his elementary education, Dev started doing odd jobs at a very young age. He did everything between cleaning cars to delivering milk, earning INR 500 per month. Dev switched jobs, opened Martial arts school, joined acting course and, so much so that he went to Mumbai to become an actor. However, after many hardships, he miserably failed. He kept failing, and got back up each time. Soon, he had an opportunity to work as waiter for an Indian restaurant in China in 2005. He dedicated his time learning about restaurant operations, food & beverages, reports etc. He made an impact and got promoted through waiter, supervisor, manager, general manager and area director in various hospitality chains within a span of five years. The remuneration of course, grew from 1650 Yuan to 35000 Yuan. But Dev mostly spent his wealth in learning and socializing.

Something about his roots always called out and appealed to him. Dev always wanted to tell the world about his Indian culture and wanted to establish his own venture. After a lot of research and financial support from friends, Dev opened first Indian cultural restaurant at Xian in 2013. The restaurant not only serves authentic Indian food, but also gives you holistic Indian experience that represents Indian architecture, crafts, festivals, yoga and dance.

Of course, Dev also got the opportunity to pursue his childhood dream of acting in movies. He began his career in acting with a small role in a movie and has now worked in around 20 movies, web series and TV serials, and others.
Transcending Cultures & Food Habits
"I was in China, and I thought of opening a unique and authentic Indian restaurant that could connect well with China and where we can exhibit and promote our incredible and vivid Indian culture. I realized although both countries are the oldest civilization, yet being neighbours, there is still a lot of cultural gap", explains Dev. With this in mind, Dev ventured out to open Amber Palace. Amber Palace is not just your regular restaurant. It's an experience. A mini-India, if you may. The journey was definitely not easy accompanied with a lot of resistance. Dev and his team had to do lot of innovations, work on feedback, and continuously evolve the recipes, style and offerings to attract people. Today, Amber Palace has come a long way gaining a plethora of regular customers due to the trust and respect that the group has earned in China over the years.

Currently, Dev Raturi owns 8 restaurants including 5 Amber Palace and 3 Chinese restaurants named Shaanxi Soul, & two more Indian restaurants are under construction. He has a vision to increase the numbers to 50 by 2030, making it a 100 Crore company and with 500 employees from both sides of the border

When Dev and team opened their first cultural restaurant at the starting point of Silk Road, Xian, it received an overwhelming response. The restaurant sports a yoga studio, hosts cultural dance events, and celebrates Indian festivals etc. Dev's team gradually developed the SOPs for the restaurants and eventually opened franchise model in other cities too. Though the pandemic didn't allow it to grow for obvious reasons, Dev focused on the outlets in Xian Shaanxi province.

Currently, Dev Raturi owns eight restaurants including five Amber Palace and three Chinese restaurants named Shaanxi Soul & two more Indian restaurants are under construction. He has a vision to increase the numbers to 50 by 2030, making it a 100 Crore company and with 500 employees from both sides of the border. Dev also has plans underway for a project with the partners to open a venture in US by 2024. Plans are underway to invest in Boutique hotel/ Wellness centers/Homestays, trade & IT etc. in Dev's hometown, Uttarakhand, in the future. "I had already visited India along with my prospective Chinese partners and investors in 2019 when I got the opportunity to meet Uttarakhand tourism minister Shri Satpal Maharaj, CM Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat, and tourism secretary etc. However, due to pandemic and geo political issues, the plan withered and subsided for now. We hope the relationship and investment resumes to normal soon so we can rework on such initiatives", expresses Dev.

Perfecting Taste
Over a period, Amber Palace's restaurant group worked on standardizing their recipes with the help of the chef to maintain consistency in the taste and presentation. They also use 100 percent home made spices prepared and standardized by their culinary team members to maintain the standard in every recipe. There are regular checks on the food quality from our management team and regular training is provided to the team to maintain the quality and service. "Being a CEO and brand ambassador of the company, my focus is to create leaders in each restaurant who can replicate my role and maintain the standard without any compromise. We do regular trainings and brainstorming to maintain the brand standard grow further", adds Dev.

Future Roadmap
Dev and his team is currently working on two projects with Xian government to open one of the biggest Indian pavilion in Xixian, part of Xian Mega project expected to open in 2023. "We are working together to have the best Indian pavilion in Asia wherein you can find true colors of Indian culture, heritage, food and lifestyle", says Dev.

Besides, Dev is parallelly working with Chinese partner to build new initiatives and projects in order to promote mutual fraternity and harmony.

Dev has a come a long way in his career. He has demonstrated tremendous person growth. Dev lives by certain principles or personal habits that fuel for the all positive energy he radiates. Over a period of time, Dev transformed his lifestyle completely. He has been fasting every Tuesday for the past 22 years, where he refrains from eating anything throughout the day. From being a heavy meat eater, Dev has now turned completely vegetarian. He wakes up at 4 am in the morning and meditates for one hour. "Currently, I have taken a resolution to fast for 108 days and survive only on fruits . I take such hard resolutions as a commitment towards a bigger responsibility", adds Dev.

As part of his personal endeavor, Dev has started a humble initiative, called Raturi Foundation, an NGO that will be dedicated towards supporting and helping the underprivileged children. "When I grew up, I could not pursue higher education due to financial challenges. We have many talented kids who are not able to study due to these hardships. With Raturi Foundation, our vision is to help all such students to support them with their education and be successful in their lives. If it goes well by blessings of Lord Krishna, we will be contributing 80 percent of our profits to the NGO towards social welfare", concludes Dev.