The Hindu MetroPlus culinary event was a taste walk through some of the best Continental and Indian influences with the best chef coming up triumphant, writes Yogendra Kalavalapalli

When a chef like Sudha Kumar skips breakfast on a Sunday morning, it sure wouldn't be without a reason. His taste buds, he did not want to mess with them. He wanted to keep them fresh. There was a task at hand.

Kumar along with two other culinary experts Prabhakar Reddy and Kalyan had to sample the culinary creations of some of the best women cooks in the city and adjudge the best recipe at the grand finale of The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery Contest ‘Sravanamasam Sambaralu'. A ‘grand finale' implied this was to be a culinary battle of sorts.

If the regional rounds were any indication of what was to come, the finals were quite an affair. About 32 dishes, mostly concocted hybrids of continental and Indian cuisine, were spruced up for the contest.

From chillies tropical cheese cake (that won the silver crown), sweet potato custard apple guiju and Tofu capsicum to Anjeera Dolmas Jamun pasta pudding, mixed grain steamed basket and a preparation dedicated to all the bachelors in town, ‘Bachelor's chocolate' (the contestant claimed it would take a mere five or six minutes to prepare without any heating or boiling), they inspired greedy looks from the poor souls who could do nothing but let their mouths water (and murmur the good fortune of being a cooking contest judge).

Some of the dishes would even have enthused a bon vivant to take to art. There was the colourful Namkeen bouquet made of namkeen snack, a valentine theme for the chillies cheese cake, and another contestant went a step further with her topical Commonwealth Games theme.

“Cooking involves a lot of passion,” said Secunderabad MLA Jayasudha, chief guest of the event. “But, what we forget is that it is one of the pleasures of life and womanhood,” she said revealing her interest in cooking. Observing how men also made good cooks, she requested the organisers to include men in next year's edition of the contest. “Men are good cooks because my husband is a good cook. My son is a good cook and my father is also a good cook.”

Observing the talented participants, actor Jeevita who was the special invitee at the event wanted more women to prove their skills in the male-dominated hotel industry.

“I am so happy,” exclaimed P. Surekha who won the first prize for her Namkeen bouquet, “One doesn't know our talent when we are at home. I must thank The Hindu. It is through such events they bring out our hidden creativity.”

The event was sponsored by Tirumala Music Centre, Janapriya Engineers Syndicate, Chilliez Modular Kitchens Wardrobes, Indian Oil Corporation, Balaji Jewellers, Revati Caterers and Relish diet sugar. Hindi Milap was the media partner. CMD Tirumala Music Centre, N. Amarnath and CMD of Janapriya Engineers Syndicate K. Ravinder Reddy were present at the grand finale.

While a prizes bonanza was unleashed soon after, three men sitting in the front rows were a content lot.

The judges not just got to sample some exquisite dishes from the Indian kitchens, but also take tips from the enterprising cooks. Sudha Kumar best summed it up, “In my 30 years experience,” he said, “I have had the best dishes for breakfast today.”

Three cheers to that.