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Fruit of labour

PRINCE FREDERICK
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Achievement With the win at the IKA/Culinary Olympics Umasankar Dhanapal’s hopes to release his book on vegetable and fruit carving

With the bronze medal he has won at the IKA/ Culinary Olympics 2012, Umasankar Dhanapal hopes to lift his book out of the limbo.

This interesting story began in 2009, when he set to work on a book about vegetable and fruit carving, assisted by a local photographer and a designer. He made a hard copy of the manuscript and solicited feedback from Chef Ludek Prochazka of Czech Republic, gold medallist in three editions of IKA/ Culinary Olympics (2000, 2004 and 2008). The Czech chef advised Umasankar not to publish the book immediately, but focus on winning a medal in any big international culinary carving competition. “Chef Ludek told me recognition of this nature would be an important marketing tool for the book,” says 30-year-old Umasankar, who serves as field trainer — KFC, Yum! Restaurants.

The Indian took this suggestion. And he surprised everyone by the way he acted on it. He began to train for ‘Category D1: Culinary Artistry Show Piece — Vegetable and Fruit Carving at IKA/ Culinary Olympics 2012 in Germany.

Considering he had learnt this art with the assistance of books and through trail and error, had no prior experience in live competitive carving, and was engaged in a completely different area of the food business, it was a big leap of faith.

He turned to Ludek for specialised training, but the celebrated Czech chef could not immediately squeeze Umasankar’s aspirations into his tight schedule. After a wait that lasted a year and a half, Umasankar went to the Czech Republic in August 2011 for a week of coaching at Ludek's carving studio.

As a member of the Indian Federation of Culinary Association, he represented India as a lone participant at the 2012 edition of the Culinary Olympics. Barring an amount extended towards visa processing and flight charges by a corporate, Umasankar met the expenditure resulting from the solo expedition. Winning a medal at a prestigious event — where over a thousand participants from 54 countries converged — is a great gain, one that is bound to offset the costs. Moreover, it is likely to open a new chapter in Umasankar’s life.

(Umasankar has a Facebook page that displays his works )

PRINCE FREDERICK

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