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