There was whistling, sizzling, steaming and chopping as contestants worked furiously to win the Coimbatore Super Chef title
It was not a regular Sunday for 82-year-old D.Mangalam. The soya double beans curry that she had made was not for her family, but for the Coimbatore Super Chef cooking contest.
It was organised by the Mahila Mandal of Shree Coimbatore Gujarati Brahma Samaj and Department of Catering and Hotel Management of SNR Sons College. The event provided a chance for many women, and Hotel Management and Catering Science students of Coimbatore to discover the chef in them.
In the first round of the contest, participants were asked to bring a breakfast dish they made at home. Meena Hariharan, a 65 year old, showed her culinary skill with the idli burger. Seventy-two year-old Gita Dave made khichdi which she served with a nine-year-old lemon lip-smacking pickle. S. Ashok Kumar, Executive Chef of The Residency, said, “I am speechless seeing the spirit and enthusiasm of these ladies. This is a learning experience for us too.” The fried idlis, dhoklas and puttu made of rice, wheat and millets made you wish you had could have postponed that early breakfast. The first round was judged by S. Ashok Kumar, R.Singaravelavan, Head of the Department of Catering Science and Hotel Management and Chef Babu of Parks Plaza.
For the second round, contestants had to cook a starter, a soup and a salad, or a main course that was wheat or rice based, along with a side dish. All this in an hour and a half.
As the clock ticked and the pressure cookers whistled, women poured their heart and soul into paneer curries and pulaus. Kids helped their grandmothers and the young mothers smartly multitasked.
Once the vegetables turned golden, the rice was cooked and the Mexican rolls looked Mexican enough, curiosity replaced the competitive spirit. Women shared their recipes and helped their neighbours. Waghida Sali charmed everyone as she deftly twirled the Parotta dough and slammed it back on the table. The time-up was announced to a few groans and hasty corrections, and everyone was ready with their offering. The judges for the second round were T. Veluswamy, Executive Chef at Le Meridian and Chef Mahesh, Pastry Chef at Vivanta by Taj Surya. A demo by the Executive Chef at Le Meridien, T. Veluswamy, left the participants thrilled.
He made pasta puttanesca and a water melon soup. As the chef, gave instructions, a few furiously took down notes while others looked on in sheer wonder. The contestants cheered as the chef with a graceful twist of his hand, tossed the mixture of broccolis, onions, garlic and olive oil into the air and back to the frying pan.
Veluswamy shared his memory of grinding urud dal for his grandmother. That was his earliest foray into the kitchen. He won over the women and budding chefs in the gathering as he said, “Mothers are the real chefs as cooking starts at home. It is a profession as important as any other and demands dignity.”