CHENNAI: Are you the kind who would try to get odd combinations to taste extraordinarily sumptuous or the kind who sticks to common ingredients but gives it a twist in presentation? Style does not matter. If you are a chef of passion, pick your knife for the coming Chennai Super Chef.
Ahead of the contest conducted by Madras Cosmopolitan Ladies Circle 38 on February 27 and 28, City Express got in touch with the judges of the contests, who are popular not only in our country, but also abroad. Meet Sanjay Thumma, the vah chef and Vicky Ratnani who has worked with 37 nationalities and cooked for Queen Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela. We talked to them about their culinary journey and what they expect in the food contest.
Taste, presentation, knowledge, innovation and aesthetics are key words to impress these judges. “It is important to see how creative they are when a set ingredients is given to them and even if they cook a good dish in terms of flavours, the presentation has to be equally good. You need to be smart!” says Sanjay, and Vicky agrees readily.
What are their specialties and signature dishes? Vicky said, “My specialty is to cook with the seasonal and local produce but in westernised methods. I want to cook for our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If I get the chance, I would do a winter special called ponkh (jowahar) ka bhel and even some modern intepretations of the flavours he likes.”
Sanjay, on the other hand, a Hyderabadi, is a biryani guy! “I love biryani and I make a many varieties of it. When it comes to innovation and quick dishes, I’d go for mushroom as it is one of the tastiest ingredients. Saute mushrooms in oil and season with pepper and salt. Yummy!” That is certainly the shortest recipe we’ve heard.
The two 45-year-olds have been in the catering industry for decades but their love for food began in their home kitchen. “When I was seven, my mom was hospitalised. So I had to cook three meals a day for the next three months. I enjoyed it and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” says Sanjay. But Vicky, though a foodie since a child, turned to cooking only when his teacher at a hotel management institute asked him to give it a try. “I always had a sense of taste because I remember making tea as a child. After specialisation, I travelled abroad, ate a lot of exotic food and learnt western techniques,” explains Vicky, culinary director for Everstone Capital.
SuperChef Chennai Food Carnival is also being organised by out-of-the-box food vendors to namma foodies on February 21 on Amir Mahal grounds.