The breakfast menu comprised items like pineapple pudding, idli, ven pongal, onion vadai, two types of chutneys, sambar and filter coffee

Sixteen kitchens, close to 15,000 people, three elaborate menus, and one mass marriage — what sounds like a logistical nightmare trickles down to a grand feast. And that is what transpired at the State government-organised mass marriage on Monday. The event was hassle-free because of good planning, says N. Kumar, managing director, Arusuvai Arasu Caterers.

The day began early for the roughly 900 members of the catering company on the day of the mass marriage at Tiruverkadu.

They had to prepare breakfast for close to 1,006 couples and their families by 5 a.m., and the menu comprised items like pineapple pudding, idli, ven pongal, onion vadai, two types of chutneys, sambar and filter coffee.

“We started cooking at around 2.30 a.m. and by 5 a.m the food was ready to be served,” said Mr. Kumar. They served dinner a day prior to the wedding, and breakfast, lunch and dinner on the day of the wedding.

“300 permanent staff and 650 casual staff were involved, some of whom were brought from places such as Karur, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy and Salem, especially to cook for the wedding. Other than our regular staff, sons of our senior cooks took leave from work to help us out,” he said.

Planning started 15 days prior to the wedding and each person, he said, was meticulously trained as uniformity had to be maintained across kitchens. “We made a computerised chart to arrive at the approximate consumption per head, so that we could estimate the quantity that needed to be cooked.

For instance, the average consumption of an adult who ate two rice varieties would be around 600 grams. Leaving some room for additional consumption, we arrived at the quantity that had to be cooked,” Mr. Kumar said.

The food was not only inspected and tasted by officials from the Health Department and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, but it went to Poes Garden as well, as the menu was selected by the Chief Minister, he said.

The ingredients that were provided were of extremely good quality, and supplied on time, he said.

And how did they ensure the taste? “North Indian cooks were brought to make the poori and channa, women cooks from Karaikudi made the idlis, and men from Ambur came to make the biryani,” he said.

Triplicane Urban Co-operative Society provided the provisions and the dairy products came from Aavin. Only mineral water was used for cooking, and all guests at the function, he said proudly, ate the same food, right from a high-ranking official to the catering staff.

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Asha SridharJune 28, 2012

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