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Festival of flavours

Flavours 2005 was a fun-filled learning experience for catering students

DRESSING UP: Final touches to Lord Venkateswara. Shake, shake, shake... . Timothy preparing a `flaming Nero's wrath cocktail. Pics: S.Siva Saravanan

FRESH FLOWERS bring a wonderful, festive look to your dining table. A flower arrangement in an interesting splash of colours or a fruit basket on a dining table brings in a creative twist. All it requires is a dose of creativity and lots of ingenuity. Flavours 2005, an inter-collegiate competition organised by the catering science department of the VLB Janakiammal College of Arts and Science in Kovaipudur, gave an opportunity for students to hone their skills in mixing drinks, arranging flowers and in fusion

Not just homes; even in hotels, it is the dining spaces that need extra care. The variety in a fruit basket, crisp napkins, breads in cane baskets, dishes in exquisite bowl and artistically displayed salads and desserts add to the dining experience. Students from over 22 colleges in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka converged on the campus to prove that they were geared up to take the hospitality industry by storm.

" The response has been overwhelming. Such events give the required practical training for the students," says Ajeet Kumar Lal Mohan, HOD.

Vegetable wonder

In the vegetable carving competition, it was not just birds and flowers; personalities and deities also found a place.

Even as one watches, Lord Venkateswara emerges from a pumpkin. On the next table Swami Vivekananda is taking shape.

One also finds a `watermelon tortoise', `orange turtle', `cucumber rose' and a `pumpkin sea'. " It took me more than an hour to carve Lord Venkateswara," says Narayanan of Karpagam College of Arts and Science, who won the first prize.

For Vageesh from Srinivasa College, Mangalore, the contest was a learning experience. "Learning to use a carving knife to get those perfect shapes is in itself an art," he says.

But don't neglect the drinks! You'll have to make sure that the cocktails and mocktails look just as fabulous as everything else. The `dress-up' tricks are applicable to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks too, so that everyone enjoys a delightful drink or two.

There's more to garnishing a drink than floating slices of lemon or orange or fixing a wedge on the rim of the glass, say the students at cocktails and mocktails competition. If you want a special drink to catch everyone's attention, try setting it on fire! Timothy Immanuel from the Institute of Hotel Management, Chennai, did exactly this and walked away with the first prize for the `flaming Nero's wrath cocktail'. There was a `Quick sunset' cocktail prepared with vodka, the rum based `Caribbean explosion' and `Fluffy duck'. In mocktails, the popular preparation was `Arabian Champagne', prepared using apple juice and soda. In floral arrangement, Toral Pradeep Vora of Merit Swiss College, Ooty, won the first prize for her Valentine's Day concept in red and white roses. Tania of CSI Bishop Appasamy College chose an asymmetrical arrangement with bright flowers to take the second prize.

Says Vikram Cota, general manager of GRT group, the chief guest at the event: "The industry is buoyant and we need people with passion. Such events help us identify the deserving lot."

In the fusion cooking competition, chicken seemed to be the universal favourite. There was chicken roullade, a continental dish prepared with a South Indian stuffing of egg and cauliflower. In Thai cuisine, there was golden glazed chicken and vegetable sizzler. Students from Baithul Izza Arts and Science, Kerala, prepared a fusion of North Indian and Malabar cuisine.

Talking about the scope of employment, Raju Armugham, Manager- HR of Club Mahindra, says: "Quality education is the key. Catering students can carve a niche for themselves in areas such as production management, house keeping, front office and Food & Beverages section. Executive housekeeping is gaining more importance in BPOs."

Other events such as Mr. and Ms. Hospitality and a quiz competition were also conducted.


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