Kids get a chance to channel the chef in them at a culinary workshop organised by Hotel Casino

Tossing a clutch of curry leaves into the pan with the flair of a master chef, Nidhi says: “They say tempering is the most difficult part of cooking. But I say seasoning is the tough part.” Thirteen-year-old Nidhi, a class VIII student of Rajagiri Public School, is one of the participants at Kochi Junior Super Chef hosted by Hotel Casino. Amid brisk chopping, stirring and peeling, Nidhi makes sure her team is keeping up with the rest in making a yummy Kerala fish curry.

Thirty-five children between aged between eight and 17 years from Kochi are enjoying a brief excursion into the professional cooking environment at Hotel Casino, as part of a culinary workshop organised by the hotel.

“We are cooking real dishes. There is nothing childish about what we are doing here,” insists Anya Joseph, another participant. “Today, we are learning how to make a traditional Kerala fish curry. Yesterday, we learnt how to prepare a Thai chicken curry.”

Lessons in cooking

The ten-day workshop aims at guiding children through the fine art of cooking. However, Dominic Joseph, general manager, food and beverage of Cgh Earth, says it is not only about cooking. “The idea is to inculcate in children good food habits and healthy practices in cooking. How to select fresh ingredients, how to minimise the usage of preservatives, how to retain freshness… there are certain basic cooking techniques we follow, which we impart to the children,” he says.

The children were taken to the hotel’s beach resort at Marari, where they were given a tour of the organic vegetable garden and taught to pick out ripe and fresh veggies perfect for salads. They would also be taken to Brunton Boatyard, where they will learn about chocolates and fine-dining. The session at David Hall will be all about pizza-making.

Anupama, a class VII student of Choice School, says she would love to try what she has learnt at home and help her mother with some expert touches here and there. She is also excited about the apron and chef’s cap she would get to keep.

Safety

“Handling the knife was tough at first. But, the chefs explained to us how to use the equipment,” she says. Dominic adds: “The first session was on safety and hygiene. We taught them how to treat a knife and how to handle other kitchen equipment.” The participants are divided into small teams of three (sometimes four) and four experienced chefs, including Dominic, guide them through the recipes. “We also encourage them to think out-of-the-box and try out experimental dishes,” he says. For instance, towards the final sessions, they will be taught how to prepare a fusion dish, shrimp tacos, using ragi dosa as base.

After the workshop, on May 15, the participants’ families would be invited for a three-course meal cooked by the children. Prizes for exemplary performance, too, would be distributed.

Though Casino introduced the workshop as part of its corporate social responsibility, the response has been well above average, says Dominic. So, similar workshops will be conducted regularly for men, women and couples.

More In: Food | Metroplus | Kochi | Features