CHENNAI: Everyone on the ground floor at VR Chennai on Sunday was struck by the aroma of fresh prawns marinated in podi and roasted in ghee. This was one of the dishes presented by chef Rajkumar to the judges of World On A Plate, one of India’s biggest gourmet festival. “We source our seafood from local fishermen in Kasimedu. That’s what adds the true flavour in seafood,” he said, as he passed a plate of piping hot prawn ghee roast to a customer.
The mood at the World On A Plate event was like that of a chemistry lab. The smell of roasted pork belly smothered in BBQ sauce wafted in from the stall set up by Tao of Peng, while Fromage’s stall was a visual delight with their cheese fondue fountain. Some of Chennai’s best restaurants represented at the gourmet festival, judged by master chefs Vicky Ratnani, Sarah Todd and Saransh Goila. The crowd followed Vicky around as he tasted the red velvet brownie by Brownie Heaven. “I’ve been to Chennai before, but it’s a little special this time. I’m waiting to taste some new flavours this time around,” said Sarah Todd, who had contested in season six of Masterchef Australia.
Earlier in the day, the three masterchefs had a cook-off where they made khichdi. “It was fun cooking with them. It always feels good cooking with friends,” Sarah said. The three chefs have used south Indian flavours in their cooking before. “I’ve used Gongura chutney and a lot of Chettinad spices. They go best with seafood preparations,” said Vicky.
After returning to the lounge behind the stage from a tasting session, Saransh said, “The last two times I was here, it was for a brief period. This time, I got to taste the local breakfast and thalis. I visited Maris restaurant as well as Kappa Chakka Kandhari where popular chef Reggie Mathews treated me to his preparations,” he said. He liked the street food and fell in love with vazhakai bajji. “It looks like a savoury, but the sweetness bursts in your mouth when you take a bite,” he said.
His restaurant, Goila Butter Chicken, had also set up a stall and were churning out creamy butter chicken options along with other signature north Indian delicacies. “My midnight snack would probably be an egg pav bhaji, where I add tomatoes, onions and pav bhaji masala to scrambled eggs and then top it up with two sunny side up eggs,” he said.