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Food fiesta from future chefs

The Huapango food festival organised by the Naipunnya Institute of Catering Technology, was a virtual feast in gourmet cooking. LEELA MENON who relished the varied culinary spread finds that the students show admirable professionalism.

THE AMBIENCE was five-star, the culinary flavour was international and the panache and skill of the chefs was totally professional. No, it was no five-star jamboree. It was the Huapango food festival organised by the Naipunnya Institute of Management and Information Technology, a project of the Arch dioceseof Ernakulam located at Koratty, off Angamaly. And a testimonial to the skill and poise imparted at the Management Institute. The culinary extravaganza organised by the Final year diploma students of the Department of Hotel Management reflected real culinary imagination and expertise, befitting international standards, not only in the palette-tickling food but also in the flourishes and decorum of the would-be hotel chefs and managers.

Huapango means a Mexican Dance Festival with a lot of fun, frolic and feasting. The Naipunya's Huapango bordered on the Mexican in culinary flavour with fun and frolic. In fact the gastronomic adventure spanned a culinary spectrum, from the local thattukada items to the Tandoori preparations of Rasoi, to the Chinese food at the Mings Corner and the typical Tharavadu food of Kerala.

The customers and guests had their pick. That the chefs had to go for a second trip to the kitchens to serve the crowd that surpassed all expectations that testified to the exotica of the "gastronomic ride" experienced.

That Indian cuisine has gained niche status abroad is no secret. The Indian curry is the national cuisine of UK. And Kerala is known globally as one of the best breakfast destinations. Tandoori of Mughal cuisine with its unique marination done with a careful blend of choicest spices, aromatic herbs and rare Indian masalas, have been a for gourmet's delight the world over. It is these qualities that Naipunnya has perfected, imparting quality professional training in Hotel Management at the Institute, which is now evolving as a trendsetter.

"With the variety and range of our courses, Naipunnya has carved a niche for itself." Said Thomas Varghese, Principal of the Institute. Not surprising that lip-smacking delicacies from around the globe are on the fingertips of the students of hotel management that they displayed at the Huapango.

The guests did not know which corner to patronise, the Mings, the Rasoi, the Thattukada, or the Tharavadu. And topping it all was a pastry counter appropriately named La Confectionaire. All four pavilions ended up with long salivating queues with extended plates. They flitted from corner to corner, gorging on vegetable noodles, sweet corn chicken or vegetable soup, chilly chicken, stirred fry vegetables, fried rice or noodles, all cooked at Ming's corner with panache, on high flame and low time, ensuring that the nutrients remained fresh and crispy. Or eating liver takatak and kuthu parotta or kappa and meen at theThattukada , a live fast-food model fast taking roots in Kerala. Or chicken and fish tikka with tandoori nan and Dakshin rice at the Rasoi, to be rounded off with gulaab jamoon. Tharavadu predictably served Biriyani and a variety of payasams figured prominently on the Tharavadu Thattukada menu. The pastry counter stocked black forest and pineapple pastries and muffins and the exotic flambé, apart from delicious ice-creams like vanilla and toblerone, all made by the students but undistinguishable from those served at posh eateries. No wonder that guests flowed on for second and third helpings.

"We have trained them not only to be good chefs but also to cultivate panache, hence the flash in the pan cooking", explained Ajith Kumar Krishnan Nair, Head of the Department who passed out from the ISM and was groomed by the Taj.

Naipunya Institute of Management and Information technology (NIMIT) has courses in Hotel Management and catering Technology, B. Sc Computer Science, B. Com with Computer Application, B. Sc Electronics, M.Com and a three-year diploma in Hotel Management and Catering Technology accredited to the Department of Tourism, Govt. of Kerala. The students get trained in reception, billing cash handling, bookkeeping and computerised hotel management system packages. "And we have hostel facilities as well", said Director Fr. Sebastian Kalaprackal. What is even more heartening for would-be job seekers is the fact that the hotel management graduates are snapped up by five-star hotels from the campus itself. Some ray of light in the jobless scenario of Kerala.

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