Monday, November 29, 2010


Food network– Social networking has made the world a smaller and better place. With Multiply, Friendster, My Space and with the explosion of Face book, more and more people are reconnecting. Eventually a lot of chefs, cooks and foodies signed up and started exchanging recipes. It is possible now to share recipes, techniques and information with people around the world. It then follows that Food Social Networking will be the next best thing. Grocery shoppers will be dependent on social networking more than advertising to help them to decide on where to buy and where to eat. A kind of social currency, as the blogosphere has anchored itself as a major word-of-mouth avenue. Gourmet and gastronomy will no longer be an exclusive club for foodies.

Franken foodWith the latest technologies in bioengineering, it is now possible to come closer to that utopia of the perfect food supply. We should be expecting more consistent food crops, and therefore better quality ingredients. But this has its own sets of controversies. On the other end of the spectrum, the nutritional aspect of food production and consumption will definitely be looked at more closely.

Green Advocacy Consumers are now more than ever aware of the consequences for irresponsible production practices. Tree huggers were right all along. Now the rest of us are catching up. We now look for ingredients, products, restaurants and food and beverage manufacturing that translate into environmental responsibility, efficiency and cost management. It is expected the demand for produce that are treated with little or no chemicals, safe manufacturing practices and sustainable production will increase. More emphasis will be put on local produce which do not require huge transportation expenses. With this, we could expect the rise of celebrity farmers making headway in local production, as well as the interest to have a home garden. We would now know more about seasonality, about the importance freshness. There will be more restaurants trying to get ‘green certified’ to attract the growing number of clientele who are environmentally conscious.

Healthy convenience Convenience stores will be packing more healthy options on its menus. Additional channels of distribution will be evident as more and more are adopting the grab-and-go lifestyle and looking for healthy alternatives. Quick lunches that pack the nutritional punch will be readily available, in environmentally safe packaging! Copy cat competition will have independent and chain restaurants to adopt new menu items that have been top sellers at competitors. Donut shops are now going into the smoothie business. The smoothie bar will now be incorporating gourmet burgers. Cupcakes will be popping up ridiculously in every nook and corner. Soon there will be so much noise, differentiation will muddle out the true identity of the dining experience. Soon the phrase ‘jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none’ will prosper.

Back to simplicity With the recession affecting the globe, what did we discover? Simple sells. Chefs and restaurants now are capitalizing on the power of classic combinations and pure ingredients. Mad Men has tickled the Baby Boomer’s fancy, so expect a return to Mama’s home cooking. ‘Rustic’ will replace ‘molecular gastronomy’ as the new buzzword. Foodservice operators have been having success with retro menu items—things that people grew up with. From a culinary perspective, however, many operators have been able to add a unique twist to these timeless favorites.

The Offal Truth In order to control food costs, savvy chefs and restaurateurs are looking at these odd parts to offset the expensive steaks and chops. Expect specials on tongue and oxtail along with beef and pork cheeks, chicken gizzards, tripe, and other innards and odd parts. Oxtail Ravioli? Beef Cheek in red wine reduction?

Tart it up Restaurateurs are noticing a trend….we need more zing, more pop to what we eat. By next year, restaurant menus will be featuring a balance in sour, salty and sweet sensations, in the form of pickled vegetables, the rise of Ethnic cooking and exotic flavors. Sugar and spice and everything nice will get it’s second serving in the spotlight. Extreme flavors will gain ground. Moody Food that make claims relating to improved mood and emotional wellbeing will represent the next generation of functional products.

Retail therapy Supermarket Steak sales will surge as the avid diner rediscovers his own dinner table at home. Artisan items such as goose liver pate, pickled vegetables and salad dressings will dominate the grocery shelves, each capitalizing on ‘home grown’. Private labeling will bring back the desire for personal. We will see the emergence of the personal chef service against traditional catering services.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cuisine and Culture by Ms. Shweta, 1½yr. CCCFPP

Cuisine and Culture

One of the oldest civilizations known to man, India, is many worlds within one. From the alpine mountains up North, to the sultry, spicy lands down South, each region is as diverse as it gets. India has been visited by many races in the past – each bringing with it, its unique culture, tradition, sometimes religion, and without a doubt – its food!

One of the first races recorded to have invaded India was of the Aryans. They brought with them sugar, turmeric and black pepper and introduced domestication of cattle to obtain milk. They classified all foods into Satvik (easily digestible), Rajasik (heavy to digest) and Tamasik (dark foods leading to an unhealthy life), thereby teaching the native Indian to emphasize on the development of mind, body and soul through food.

The northern region of the country was highly influenced by Mughal or Persian cooking style. The Persians introduced the Indians to rich relishes, meats with cream and butter sauces, dates, nuts, and sweets. The essence of their native place was incorporated in the India Cuisine with dishes like the Biryani, Kebabs, Breads and Pulao. These dishes are a vital part of Indian food as we know it today and one simply cant seem to get enough of them!

When the Portugese started trading in India, they brought with them an assortment of ‘New World’ vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, garlic and exotic fruits. They passed on their love for tangy and spicy delicacies with dishes such as Prawn Balchao and Pork Vindaloo which changed the face of Goan food as it was then known.

During the British invasion, Indians were introduced to Whisky and Tea. The British introduced salads, short eats and desserts to the Indian palate. By the time they left the country, dining tables had replaced kitchen floors as the place to eat and porcelain crockery had replaced the banana leaf as the utensil to eat out of.

In the midst of all these invasions and interventions, there were also the Chinese explorers who passed on the art of stir frying and the practice of adding a tinge of sweet to food items. Also, one cannot ignore the influence on the Mongolian invasion in Eastern India. They introduced rice production and Mustard to the East Indian populace. Their food preparation was simple, to suit their nomadic lifestyle, cooking meat to use in soups or in dumplings.

Once the invasions died down and life returned to normalcy, people in every region had the freedom to develop their own local cuisine. They began to be developed per climatic conditions of a particular region. At that time, the food distribution network wasn’t as speedy as today, and people had to make do with what they had. For instance, South Indian food is representative of its tropical climate – it is hot, spicy and not very greasy. Dishes such as chettinadu, etc. send many a heart racing with their spiciness!

Rajasthani food, on the other hand, has evolved with the complexity of life in a desert. The region faces a water and fresh vegetable scarcity and hence its food is tougher, i.e. it does not require heating before consumption and can last longer. For instance, Bhati (eaten with Dal – Churma) is known for its long shelf life as well as the minimal quantity of water required in preparation. Then there are the coastal states that extensively use coconut oil in their cooking – Kerala’s cuisine is full of coconut and it’s by – products and West Bengal makes good use of its fish supply!

Over time, the food people eat defines them as a culture. In many ways it affects their lifestyles and temperaments. For example, our Gujarati forefathers began adding sweet to their food to counter the saltiness of their water. Over time, this became a practice and today, Gujarati food is sweet and known to be so, even though the quality of water may have changed.

Although foods alone do not represent a cuisine - it is the meaning and myths surrounding the ingredients, the preparation, the cooking, the combination of flavors and practices of eating, that determine the makings of a cuisine. Cuisine is often what sets a culture apart and provides a common insight into what it means to "belong" to that community. What’s unique about Indian cuisine is that its recipes have been passed on over generations by word of mouth. Generations of grandmothers and mothers have spent hours toiling in the kitchen, passing their knowledge and wisdom to their daughters. This tradition has ensured some secrets stay with the community while defining the framework of a cuisine.

All in all, exploring India requires more than ample time, an over flowing appetite and most importantly, an open heart. Because if you are to experience the country, what better way than to do it through its food.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How women should groom themselves to enter the professional kitchen by Ms. Arti Sultania

How women should groom themselves to enter the professional kitchen:

Women are, by nature, homemakers. They are the ones who take care of the family, who cook and clean and maintain the home.

This being said, it is surprising that few women choose to make a career in food production. Though many women work in hotels, they are usually in housekeeping, front office, or in administration. Few women chefs have ventured out to start a career in the professional kitchen. This domain was, and is, a male dominated one, and the best chefs today are men. This could be, perhaps, due to the high physical strain required, the long and odd working hours, and the often extreme working conditions.

Many women can have a difficult time balancing the workplace and the home. A straightforward solution for the eccentric timings in the hotel industry is for women to adopt fields where they can work in straight shifts, i.e. from 9 to 5, such as pastry, garde manger etc.

Women are getting ready to accept way of life as a professional chef, such as the strict uniform code, the high standards of personal hygiene required, the restrictions on wearing any jewellery, make up, perfumes etc, while also accepting the ‘shift’ type jobs and the hard working conditions.

Although this is a male dominated industry, the same strict set of rules and high discipline standards in the workplace are in practice to ensure that women need have no fear of harassment or partiality. This is truly a field where the quality of your work alone determines your success as a chef.

When women can go to space or become fighter pilots, why can’t they step into the professional kitchens? After all, cooking is something we have been doing since the beginning of civilization. Women should take pride in their culinary skills, handed down through the generations. Most men chefs acknowledge that their mother, sister or wife, are better chefs than them. Such a statement surely proves that women are born chefs, while men are made chefs.

Chefs, today, are not restricted merely to hotels. Although, at one time, chefs were viewed only through the window of a 5 star hotel, the variety of food operation options available today has expanded the horizon for many women chefs. We can become food critics, host a tv show, write a book, become small scale entrepreneurs, become food photographers etc. A host of options are available today to women who don’t want to walk the beaten path. Apart from all this, as a homemaker, a woman chef can put out gourmet meals for her family members and guests.

I am happy to see famous women chefs like Chef Manisha Bhasin, Chef Nita Nagraj, Julia Child, Nigella Lawson to name but a few. They have achieved a great deal of success in this field and are famous names in India and abroad. These chefs are an inspiration today to women who want to enter this field. I hope that the day is not far away, when we shall see an equal number of women and men chefs in the professional kitchen.

Today, after completing almost half of my course, I can see the difference that professional training makes to my skills and capabilities as a chef. I sincerely believe that if you want to make a career for yourself, as a chef, professional training is needed to help you get the knowledge, the discipline and the ability required in this exacting field.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

SPICES A NEW avatar by Chef Shivaramakrishnan

Updating oneself on different forms of spices in modern uses

Spices are the building blocks of flavor in food applications. Food developers who wish to use these building blocks effectively to create successful products must understand spices completely The word "spice came from the Latin word "species” meaning specific kind. The name reflects the fact that all plant pans have been cultivated for their aromatic fragrant, pungent, or any other desirable properties including the seed (e.g., aniseed, caraway, and coriander), leaf (cilantro. Kari. bay. and mint), berry (allspice, juniper, and black pepper), bark (cinnamon), kernel (nutmeg), aril (mace), stem (chives), stalk (lemongrass), rhizome (ginger, turmeric, and galangal). root (lavage and horseradish), flower (saffron), bulb (garlic and onion), fruit (star anise, cardamom, and chile pepper), and flower bud (clove).

This article describes the different forms in which Indian spices are available for the chefs.

  • Whole Spices
  • Powdered Spices and Sterilized Spices

Powdered and Sterilized spices are in par with the norms of EC directives for microbial load, aflatoxins and pesticide residues and are pulverized to the desired texture.
Spice Oils, Oleoresins and Resinoids.
Spice oils are the volatile components present in most spices and provide the characteristic aroma of the spices. Spice oil is normally extracted by steam distillation. Spice oils have the major advantages such as standardization, consistency and hygiene. Spice oils are mostly used in food, cosmetics, perfumes and personal hygiene products like toothpastes, mouthwashes and aerosols, besides in a variety of pharmaceutical formulation.
Spice oleoresins represent the complete flavour profile of the spice. It contains the volatile as well as non volatile constituents of spices. Oleoresins can be defined as the true essence of the spices and can replace whole/ground spices without impairing any flavour and aroma characteristic. Oleoresins are obtained from spices by extraction with a non-aqueous solvent followed by removal of the solvent by evaporation. Spice oleoresins guarantee superior quality of flavour and aroma. They are complete and balanced, consistent and standardized. They ensure storage stability in the final product and are free from contamination. Custom made blends are also offered to suit the specific requirement of the buyer. Spice oleoresins are mainly used in processed meat, fish and vegetables, soups, sauces, chutneys and dressings, cheeses and other dairy products, baked foods, confectionery, snacks and beverages. India enjoys the distinction of being the single largest supplier of spice oleoresins to the world.
Resinoids from Indian olibanum, which has gained acceptance as an excellent fixative in perfumery.
Olibanum / Guggul & Myrrh are the raw materials from which oil is isolated using steam distillation to produce liquid aromatics. Resin, the other fraction, is isolated using solvent extraction. The solvent extraction process produces a viscous, almost solid substance called Resinoids. Resinoids are soluble in high-grade, absolute alcohols.

Food Seasonings
In order to make food more interesting and palatable, seasonings play a crucial role by providing the tangy heat and enticing aroma of spices & herbs. They tickle our senses.
Unlike traditional raw spice blends, our range of seasonings is derived from spice oils and oleoresins and custom-formulated for specific applications. They come in liquid, plated and dispersed versions as per customer requirements.
Some of the seasonings include:

  • Dust-on powdered seasonings
  • Liquid seasonings for slurry application
  • Liquid blends for processed foods
  • Blends for meat-products
  • Marinades
  • Curry powders

Natural Colour and Enriched Extracts
Curcumin in turmeric and Carotenoids in chillies are the natural colour components extracted for use as natural colours. The natural colours or their blends have wide applications from food sector to pharmaceuticals, dyes and cosmetics. India is a large producer of turmeric, and Indian Oleoresin Industry is one of the largest supply sources of a wide range of turmeric extracts in liquid and dry form. The range of products offered by Indian industry covers a wide spectrum of purity for the colour user, providing versatility in application.
Garcinia Indica (Kokam) and Gancinia Cambogia are two spices widely grown in the slopes and plain of evergreen forests of Western Ghats in South India. These two spices have distinct medicinal properties for curing obesity. Hydroxy citric acid is the principal component which is extracted and enriched for preparation of pharmaceutical products. Both these varieties of tamarind have wide applications in pharmaceuticals and therapeautical areas. A range of branded anti obesity drugs available around the world use Hydroxy Citric Acid since it is natural and herbal in origin.
Spray Dried Products
Spray dried antigenic products are highly valued in the quality cautious market. A wide range of spray dried products are garlic, capsicum, ginger, mustard etc. Spray drying is a technique used for dehydrating aqueous botanical extracts. Oils and oleoresins are encapsulated in starch, maltodextrin or gum so that the strength and the flavour is locked in the capsule.Encapsulation protects the active properties of the product over long storage periods. They are environmentally safe and can contain antibacterial properties. Conversion to powder form enhances convenience in application. When incorporated in food, the outer coating dissolves, releasing the full flavour.In carrier dried products, the base resin is mixed with a carrier (like salt) which is normally an ingredient used by the end product. A comprehensive range of natural extracts in carrier dried, spray dried and micro encapsulated forms to meet the demands of the world market:

  • Oils/Oleoresins
  • Black pepper
  • Fennel
  • Capsicum
  • Garlic
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Coriander
  • Mustard
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Nutmeg
  • Mace

Essential Oils
Essential oils are isolated using advanced distillation technology from spices and herbs. Modern distillation techniques employed ensure that the most valuable fractions are preserved in the distillate. These components are the odoriferous, volatile components of plant material that contribute to the characteristic aroma and flavour.
They provide a uniform flavour profile, without imparting colour to the final product and are free from enzymes and tannins and also microbiologically stable.
range of world class essential oils include:

  • Cardamom, Cumin, Lemongrass
  • Cassia, Curry leaf, Mace
  • Celery, Davana, Mustard
  • Cinnamon leaf , Fennel, Nutmeg
  • Citronella, Garlic, Olibanum
  • Clove, Ginger, Palmarosa
  • Coriander, Hing (Asafoetida)
  • Sandalwood

Processed Blends
Chemicals have placed itself as a distinguished processed blends manufacturer in the industry. Processed blends are used to improve the final flavor, texture and appearance of the food. Application oriented products are painstakingly processed blends that are commonly used to enhance the final appearance, flavour and texture of processed and convenience foods.Expertise in minutely customizing end products lead naturally into application oriented products. The ingredients and flavours are processed conveniently for direct application to the final food products themselves.
Some common uses of application oriented products are

  • Sausages & meat products
  • Snacks
  • Ketchups
  • Convenience and RTE foods
  • Beverages
  • Processed foods
  • Confectionary and bakery
Nutraceutical products
Nutraceutical can refer to foods, dietary supplements, medical foods, and functional foods that may provide prevention and treatment of illness or disease eg.

  • Fenugreek saponins
  • Green tea
  • Licorice
  • Curcumin
  • Rosemary
  • Piperine
  • Gingerols
  • Brahmi (bacopa monnieri)
  • Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)

Nowadays, food professionals continually search for "new" and unique spice flavorings because of the growing global demand for authentic ethnic and cross-cultural cuisines. Consumers’ are also seeking natural foods and natural preservatives for healthier lifestyles and natural ways of preventing ailments. So. spices are also being sought for their medicinal value, as antioxidants, and as antimicrobials.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winning the student chef of the year award by By Rama Krishna. M, Final Year Student BCT&CA

Winning the student chef of the year award
It isn't where you come from, it's where you're going that counts…………..
Winning the student Chef of the year award is a great milestone that I’ve passed in my journey to become a renowned Chef one day. Achieving this title is not something that I would have never thought of five years back but it was made possible with the guidance and support of my mentors and chefs at the Culinary Academy of India. Being part of such a prestigious academy gave me the confidence and instilled the skills in me that I required to be part of such a competition.
The training for the competition began with a intra college competition in which all the students of the final year participated. Once I was selected to represent the Academy, I was asked to plan a menu which was scrutinized and adjusted to meet the current trends and international standards. I had wonderful training sessions with Chef Sudhakar N. Rao, Chef Akshay, Chef Khajaram, Chef Sanjay, Chef Shiva & Chef Sai Krishna who individually trained me on the various aspects of food presentation. I was also taught how to work efficiently within a specified time. They not only trained me but also shared their past competition experiences.
The D day (Nov 8) came faster than I could blink. All I remember was waking up late and running to the Academy where the competition was held. My competitors form various leading hotel management & catering colleges were getting geared up for the big event. Chef Bharani from Custom Culinary (Sponsors of the event) with his team briefed the contestants about the rules of the game and then it all began. Once the competition started we were all a bit tensed since there were cameras all around watching every move we made and some of the best Chef’s in the country were witnessing the event which got my heart pounding…. And all of a sudden I hear ’10 mins for pick up’. I was done with my cooking had just finished plating my appetizer which was a seafood ensemble. I quickly finished my dessert plate and went onto my main course. I was the first to present all my food which impressed the jury. South Carolina Master Barbeque Champion Chef J T Handy, Chef Bharani of Custom Culinary, Chef Vijay Bhaskaran of Le Meridien Bangalore, Chef Sheetharam, Prasad of GRT Grand Chennai and Chef Nambi Arooran of ITC Kakatiya Hyderabad were part of the jury ensured that all the plates were judged for its eye appeal, taste, texture etc. Once all the plated were judged, the contestants were summoned to announce the results. All of us who were busy conversing with each other sharing experiences about the show and their chances of becoming hero of the evening, became numb as the judges walked into the hall with a bundles of papers. Before the results they decide to award all of us, to keep our spirits high by presenting us with a souvenir and a participating certificate which further delayed the results and leaving me more anxious. And then all of a sudden I heard……… “and the student chef of the year 2009 goes to …….M.Rama Krishna from Culinary Academy of India. Although I was expecting it, I was stunned and heard applause all around from my co-participants and my well wishers.The award ceremony was conducted in Taj Krishna, Hyderabad as part of the 4th National Culinary Congress. Chefs from across the world Chef John Sloane, Continental Director, Asia WACS Board, Chef Martin Kobald, President, South Africa Chefs Association who were present at the event and when my name was called out to receive the award amidst all these dignitaries and mentors, I felt as if I’m on cloud9 as this was my first time to receive such a prize in front of such a great crowd.

Chef Bharani of Custom Culinary briefing the contestants

Preparing a 3-course Menu

Other contestants preparing 3-course Menu

Products at Display
Panel of Judges

Is Kitchen still a Man's World? by Chef Akshay Kulkarni

For too many years a woman’s place was in the Kitchen – except when that kitchen happened to have a restaurant attached to it. Though every woman was expected to be a good cook, conventional wisdom declared that men would be great Chefs.
It is a known fact that women have to make life decisions that men are not asked to make. Rather, they are being forced to make the decision. Will I have a family or a job? And that…. is the base line. The present ambitious generation of women has undoubtedly opted for the later. Then… why is it that we still do not see more women chefs than men?
It has always been a misconception that “It’s harder in the culinary profession than in others because our hours are strange”. The challenge of balancing career and family life is especially difficult in the restaurant industry. Well, I do not buy this argument at all? What about the timings & work in call centers, MNC’S, IT Companies and Banks? The pressures are mind boggling and the timings are as better or worse as that of a chef.
After watching the film 3 Idiots, I am of the opinion that today’s generation of youngsters will opt for a passion driven career rather than money oriented. Industry’s top companies are working to eradicate barriers that have kept women from advancing their careers in the culinary profession. They have realized that it’s good business to move skilled women up the ranks. The World Association of Chefs Societies and the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations are in the process of creating an environment within the Industry where women feel their contributions are valued and that they can grow and take on new projects so that they want to stay and prosper.
Indian hotels can boast of a very few woman big wigs in the culinary fraternity. Chef Neeta Nagaraj, Corporate Chef, Jaypee Hotels, Chef Manisha Bhasin, Executive Chef, ITC Maurya, New Delhi, Chef Madhu Krishnan, Executive Chef, ITC Gardenia, Bangalore to name a few. Thanks to the hard work of these chefs, they are a great motivating factor for many young women to join the culinary profession and grow to this honorable title of professional chef.
Women make great chefs because multi tasking is a way of life. They possess determination under difficult circumstances and refuse to give up. They are sensitive to the needs and wants of others – guests and staff alike. The culinary industry is growing and there is an abundant requirement of chefs and in particular Women Chefs. The day is not very far when we will see women chefs taking over this mantle. As a chef myself, it will be very encouraging to see more woman chefs grow and prosper in this wonderful culinary industry.

at par...

Fine Skills

Commitment & Dedication

Budding to become professionals

Part of the team

in the front line

with and amongst all