Young Chef contest brings out culinary best in students

Young Chef contest brings out culinary best in students

The tension was palpable and the anxiety evident much like the charged atmosphere of popular cooking competitions on televisilon. 

Labouring hard to dish out the best three-course meal they could prepare, ten students from various schools across the City engaged in an endeavour of a lifetime trying to impress judges at the regional finals of the Young Chef India Schools, 2014 here on Saturday.

Organised by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), Bangalore, and supported by the Union Ministry of Tourism, this is the fourth year of the competition for class 11 and class 12 students that takes place in six zones across the country. The winner will go to London to participate in the grand finale in October.

While the competition saw participants from about 50 city schools in the preliminary rounds, it boiled down to the ten best young chefs to compete in the finale. The task was straight forward: to prepare a three-course meal in three hours.

All was going well for Ajay Kumar, a class 11 student of Bethany High Junior College, when the bread for his exotic desert, the ‘Gulab Jamun Bread Alaska’ got overcooked and stubbornly stuck to the dish. “I was not able to complete my dish,” he said apologetically when the judges tasted his creation.

However the accident turned out to be serendipitous when a judge on the panel, Abhijit Saha, chef and owner of popular city restaurants Caperberry and Fava complemented him on his dish. Visibly impressed he asked, “Did you cook the gulab jamun yourself?” A proud ‘yes’ was the answer on the other end. Ajay wants to study chartered accountancy while at the same time follow his passion for cooking. “My passion for cooking will never go away. It will always be there no matter what I do,” Ajay said. 

Commenting on the explosion of cook shows and rapid popularity of the food industry in the present day, executive chefs at Shangri-La, Bangalore, Antonio Tardi and Nitesh Seth, the other two judges on the panel, were of the opinion that despite the glamour, food and hospitality industry boils down to “hard work and long hours spent in the kitchen mastering the craft.”

The elaborate presentation and the close to perfect cooking of Shreya Jhunjwala from Bishop Cottons Girl’s School greatly impressed the judges. Laying out a sumptuous platter of her native Rajasthani cuisine, she won the competition. “I am extremely happy to win amongst so many students who really cooked so well. I didn’t believe till the end that I won and this has inspired me to take up cooking seriously in my life,” she said.

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