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Rustling up unusual recipes

The Young Chef's Culinary Contest threw up some surprises


"THE INVENTION of a new recipe does more for mankind than the discovery of a new star." It is difficult to ignore the well-grounded commonsense of this Brillat-Savarin aphorism. If one goes by this guideline, the pesto polentas, papaya sponge with cashew sauce, steamed prawn mousse and stuffed aubergines created on Wednesday last assured me of Chennai's bright future.

The occasion was the `Young Chef's Culinary Contest' held at the MGR Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Valasaravakkam.

The contest had 32 chefs below 25 years from star hotels in the city pitted against one another, whipping up a three-course Continental menu — a starter (vegetable based), main course (chicken, mutton, beef, fish or prawn) and dessert (fruit). The beauty of the contest was its innovative spirit and unpredictability.

The contestants had to work with a surprise basket of ingredients. Once the clock started ticking, it was not just skill that came into play, but also imagination and intelligence. So even at the third and final hour of the contest when one contestant was asked what he was going to do with the variety crepes on his table the answer was, "I am not sure, yet."


Another young chef holding his marinated mutton muttered, "I'll roast it and do something." Another must of the competition was use of Aavin products at least in two courses as the dairy was the sponsor.

Ah! It was much cooler on this side of the worktable while the boys sweated and slaved under their toques.

The judges didn't escape the heat altogether as the decisions were not easy to make. The panel of judges included B. K. Prasad, IAS, managing director, Aavin, G. S. Talwar, former Oberoi executive chef, G. Venkatachalam, sr. manager (catering) Indian Airlines Limited, and K. Damodharan, Institute principal.

The only niggling thoughts on my mind at the end of the contest were how the contestants would survive till November 5 when the results would be announced. A case of suspended animation, indeed!

MARIEN MATHEW

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