For over a decade-and-a-half, as part of the International Chefs Day (October 20) celebrations, the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF) has been offering a professional platform to chefs to showcase and hone their culinary skills. The idea is to accredit a chef as an artist.
This year too, over 100 chefs from starred hotels and standalone restaurants are competing in different categories at the 16th Annual Chef Awards at RIG Institute of Hospitality &Management in Greater Noida. The jury members include noted Malaysian chef Peter Chan among others. Today is the last day of the competition. The winners of the culinary competition will be awarded by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on October 21 at Hotel Le Meridien in New Delhi.
ICF is the oldest and largest association of professional chefs across India. Formed in 1987 to promote Indian culinary art, it has over 2,000 members. It also organises seminars and events to take Indian cuisine to international levels. We speak to ICF president Chef Davinder Kumar on what makes these awards special.
When and with what aim were these awards instituted?
These awards were given away for the first time in 2004 with the objective to honour chefs for their excellence in culinary art and to recognise their talent and contribution to the hospitality industry. Before this, the achievements of chefs were not acknowledged.
Our top award categories include Lifetime Achievement Award, Golden Hat Chef Award, Silver Hat Chef Award, Pastry Chef of the Year Award, Lady Chef of the Year Award and Food Critic/Writer Award.We also honour Master Chefs for different cuisines likeOriental, North Indian, South/East/ West Indian, and for kebabs, sweets, bakery, and confectionery from international geographies.
Share your experiences of the last 15 years.
There has been an ongoing growth in the number of participants. We have over 125 nominations this time. We have consistently tried to take the event to the next level as far as its execution and presentation is concerned.
Seven years back, we began holding Chef Summit to educate fellow chefs. These awards have now found acceptance in industry, society and among the fraternity. Chefs are waiting to participate while organisations and food manufacturers look forward to partner with us. In the last two decades, we have taken Indian cuisine to a higher level – back then we only talked about theories of India.
The cuisine from which region is more popular…
Earlier, Indian cuisine was only associated with tikkas and curries. Only Punjabi and Awadhi delicacies were popular with foreigners but now south Indian dishes are fast gaining popularity. Recently, I went to London and saw restaurants selling Chettinad cuisine. People abroad now know that there is more to Kerala and Andhra than just dosa, sambar and vada.
What’s the percentage of women chefs in India?
The percentage is minimal but the numbers are growing. More and more girls are now taking up this profession. Thanks to creativity and technology that has seeped in the food industry, food production is being accepted by women quite a bit.
We have been focussing majorly on north till now but plans are underway to take this competition to other parts of the country.