Having run a luxury products business for years in Hong Kong, it was commonplace for Rakesh Barot to entertain clients only at the finest eateries and swishest lounges in town. It was when he moved back to India that he realized the value of his top-notch experiences there, and he wanted to offer them to others as well. Teaming up with restaurateur Dhaval Udeshi and Hopping Chef’s Shaival Chandra, he launched The Culinary Social (TCS).

Startups

Up to 12 people — in groups or as singles — can sign up for a customizable tour of 5-7 days that promises to serve as an all-access pass to only the best Hong Kong has to offer. “When you go to a new country, sampling their food gives you an insight into their culture. We take you to the best of restaurants and nightclubs, make you meet Michelin-starred chefs and book you VIP tables at clubs that are hard to get into. The key word is accessibility,” says Udeshi. “I’ve been to Hong Kong without Rakesh, and when I went back with him, I spent the same amount of money and still had a better experience. Having locals on board is a huge advantage.”

Soon, TCS wants to widen its horizons and do luxury culinary tours in Dubai, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Amalfi Coast, and — when they’re well settled — the US and Europe.


 

The Founder’s Favourites 

Rakesh recommends:



Bo Innovation

We’ve booked you a private dining area at ‘The Demon Chef’ Alvin Leung’s restaurant. It’s more like a laboratory than a kitchen, where the celebrity chef-patron combines regional Chinese cooking with western ingredients, using a high-tech approach.

Catalunya

There are thousands of varieties of tapas, but most bars outside Barcelona will have a maximum of 25-30 on their menu. Catalunya offers a staggering 300 tapas, readily available at the same time.

Aqua Spirit

This penthouse club has been named among the top ten lounges in the world. Charles Joly – who won the prestigious Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2014 – presents five new cocktails inspired by summer destinations. The open sushi bar here is also fantastic.


 

Shaival recommends:



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Alexandria

Aboard a private boat, a chef of Franco-British origin cooks interesting local cuisine and shares insights about food as well as her abundant knowledge of some of the finest restaurants in the world.

Sevva

An amazing dessert tasting is planned here. The range of sweets includes Ginger Cheesecake, Honey Crumble Cake, Apple Pie with Shaved Cheddar and the spectacular Marie Antoinette’s Crave.

Mana

After a night of indulgence, this detox breakfast is a good bet, with hearty vegetarian, vegan, organic, local, raw and gluten-free options.


 

Dhaval recommends:

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Dragon-I

Wednesdays here are the infamous Model’s Nights. This super exclusive club has hosted many celebrities who visit Hong Kong – from Hollywood A-listers and fashion designers to football and basketball players

Armani Lounge

Illuminated geometric screens separate the sushi and the drinks bars from the tabled dining areas. You’ll get to try a great selection of Japanese and Italian favourites, curated by the head chef.

Mango chacha

Everything served here is made with mango; it’s very interesting – there’s mango soufflé, toast, roll cake, pudding and even tea and coffee.


 

More on the itinerary

Classic afternoon tea at the acclaimed Peninsula hotel

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Six-course vegetarian meal at ‘Chef of the Century’ and 28 Michelin Star-awardee Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

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Champagne and canapés aboard the Aqua Luna boat

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