Cooking is not about eating, it’s about working out, finds Nandini Nair
I recently decided to combine a cooking class with a workout. It was a perfect example of the stick and the carrot. Cook, clean and sweat. And then pamper yourself with a freshly made dessert.
I learnt to make a sugar-free chocolate fudge cake at Shangri-La Hotel, as part of their special Master Chefs at Work series. Here a chef demonstrates three to four dishes, explaining the intricacies along the way. Vivek Bhatt, the Executive Sous Chef at Shangri La Hotel, says that with most chefs working 10 to 12 hour shifts, they don’t get time to exercise separately. But the job keeps them on their toes and running. Since there are no chairs to sit on and only heavy dishes to lift, chefs are assured of working those hamstrings and those biceps. All that chopping, stirring, carrying, washing and scrubbing — it is enough to make a chef sweat. It’s enough to make you pant.
I am not going to cook for 10 hours. But, once home from the cookery class, I decided to combine my lesson with a vigorous workout, to empathise with all the chefs of the world! For the sugar-free chocolate fudge cake, I had to first whip up cream, butter and Splenda sugar. Taking no shortcuts, I chose my arm over the blender. At first, it was fun. But whip as I might, the batter in the bowl resembled the surface of Mars. I tried with the right arm. I tried with the left. I tried with willpower. I then had to add fresh cream, egg yolk and melted chocolate. Slowly, the batter began to yield to smoothness.
I alternated the whipping of the egg white and Splenda sugar with heel raises. This exercise is great for flaccid calves. Using the counter for support you rise up on your toes and work the calves. 12 reps are recommended.
Before mixing in the dry items together, I do counter push-ups. Placing your hands on the counter, move away from the counter, until your shoulders are at the same level as your hands. In this position bend and straighten your elbows for about 15 reps. The recipe requires that I mix the baking powder and cornflour together and keep aside. After mixing them, I go for my kitchen squats.
Using the kitchen counter again, I squat down slowly. Go as low as you can without grimacing. After 10 reps, all the ingredients are sufficiently rested. I now do a final mix and put all the ingredients in a greased dish at 175 degrees. Waiting for the cake to rise, I do lifts with a 1-litre milk carton and slowly move on to a 2-kg rice bag. All the while, I sniff the air for the smell of baking.
35 minutes later — the cake has risen. I drop my weights and grab the fork.(For reservations at Master Chefs: firstname.lastname@example.org)