After much heat and determination chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni sets a Guinness World Record. Here's a ringside view
The air is thick with smoke and determination. Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni has been barbequing non-stop since 9 a.m. on Sunday. Working five fiery grills through the sharp morning Sun, through the blistering afternoon heat and through a long night. And, he has two more hours to go.
The Sun's up again, and getting stronger. He patiently puts another round of whole chickens on a grill, simultaneously checking the fragrant rosemary scented brinjals on another, and glancing at the sizzling papaya glazed pineapple on the third. Seconds later, he's carefully brushing the fourth barbeque, preparing it for garlic pepper fish steaks. Then, it's time to take out the deliciously blackened rum marinated beef from grill number five.
A dedicated food historian, spice collector and promoter of South Indian cooking, chef Jacob's sweating it out on Radisson Temple Bay's sprawling lawns in his spirited attempt at creating a new Guinness World Record for the longest barbeque marathon.
He's clearly trained hard, preparing for the event with disciplined work outs and meticulous marination. Although he's on item number 479, cilantro citrus chicken, while items 475-8 blister impatiently, he moves systematically, flipping here and turning there. At regular intervals, he reaches for sprays of olive oil, and salt water to help the cooking process.
Meanwhile, his friends and colleagues are around to cheer him on. A team from Body Fuelz monitors his diet and fluid intake, ensuring he gets a constant supply of amino acids, using their products, teamed with whey protein, coconut water and butter milk.
On Sunday, he drew a crowd of about 200 visitors who drove in from Chennai to watch the record being made while munching through piles of delectable kebabs, juicy pineapple wedges and spluttering sausages.
Now, with just half-an-hour to go, it's quieter. Chef Jacob's exhausted, and still spraying, flipping, prodding. Someone decides that music will help. So, they play Vivaldi? Not really. 50 Cents' ‘Candy Shop' thuds out in all it's unprintable glory.
Besides large tins of olive oil, marinated meat, vegetables and fruits are piled in cling-film wrapped trays.
On another table, Lucia Sinigagliest, from the Guinness Record office in London, sits with a stopwatch and two other judges. As the food's done, it's loaded on a table so people can try Cuban carrots, gleaming, besides fruit-flavoured brinjal, beef marinated in oyster sauce, chicken wings soaked in pineapple honey, and lamb chops radiating the sweetness of pomegranate.
Ten minutes. He piles a tray with pickled grilled prawns. Five minutes. We get a pile of carefully charred pomegranate with honey paneer. One minute, and he puts down a strawberry prawn grill as everyone bursts into applause. He's drenched in sweat, slightly teary-eyed and clearly thrilled. The chefs pick him up excitedly as he waves weakly.
He's barbequed for 24 hours and five minutes. It's a Guinness World Record.
Why do people do it? It's part of human nature to want to push your limits. Also to promote a culture. Jacob's passion is food. I was recently in Mizoram where they organised the largest bamboo dance, with 10,736 people.
I go all over the world to adjucate. We receive a thousand requests a week. About 90 per cent of those get rejected for various reasons. I admit I'm inside this world. But to me, there's a steady increase in interest in Guinness Records. The number of applications grows every day.
India is very active. The Indian people are very passionate about records, and they hold many. They're best at these kind of marathons, because of their stamina, mental strength and mass participation. Jacob wanted to test his limits. And, you never know whether it will be successful. Not until the very last minute.”