Chef Workshop, JW Marriott Juhu

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You have probably often heard of chefs collaborating with other chefs to create great food; but seldom you have seen them throw food at each other, get competitive and go complete crazy in the kitchen. We had the opportunity to not just witness exactly that, but also be part off a cook off that we’ll never forget.

JW Marriott Juhu recently had an workshop called “Marriott India Chefs Workshop” organized for 30 JW Executive Chefs from all over India. Conducted by Toine Hoeksel – Director of Culinary Asia Pacific, Marriott International, with Chef Himanshu Taneja together they discussed the culinary trends of 2016 recognizing culinary innovation and evolving trends across the globe.

We were welcomed by Chef Toine and were introduced to all the 30 chefs. It was great to see chefs from Marriott hotels all over India under one roof. We were informed that all of us would be divided in eight teams. Each team was allocated Rs 2000/- to shop for the ingredients for the cook off. As a team, we had to make a three-meal course and one of the dishes was to be made by us bloggers. We had to cook traditional Indian cuisine that showcases the use of fresh local produce and it had to be something close to our heart.

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Soon we were divided in teams. I was teamed up with Chef Vishal Atreya, Executive Chef – JW Marriott Sahar, Chef Ravi Sharma, Executive Chef – Courtyard Marriott Mumbai and Chef Vikram Gakkan, Executive Chef – Courtyard Marriott Pune Hinjewadi. Joash was with Chef Avijit Deb Sharma Executive Sous Chef – The Ritz-Carlton Bangalore, Chef Yogender Pal Executive Chef – Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre and Chef Ajeet Kumar Head Chef – Fairfield Marriott.

Here we were with some of the best chefs in the country about to step into their kitchen and cook with them. It was all so exciting. We were then handed the money for our shopping and each team found a corner to huddle up to discuss their plan of action. We appointed Chef Vishal to lead our team. They were all so welcoming in hearing my ideas for our dishes. The theme of our courses revolved around my story. Soon Chef Ravi and I headed out for supplies; Chef Vishal and Vikram agreed to hold fort at the hotel to prep with the in-house ingredients. Our theme was flavours of Punjab and it was unanimously named Rangla Punjab! The story revolved around how my dad loves Punjabi food and our entry for this cook off was an ode to him. Our meal –

  1. Aperitif – Barfiwali Lassi
  2. Appetizer – Ambarsari Machchi
  3. Main Course – Murgh Makhani Medallion

While Chef Vishal and Vikram started with the prep, Chef Ravi and I left for Nature’s Basket to pick up all the ingredients. We were given 3 hours for our cook off. We already had a list prepared, so scouting out ingredients was easy. It was fun bumping into fellow participants and chefs. We met Joash as well, he was with Chef Avijit picking out ingredients for their dishes. Joash loves prawns so he had to include it in one of the courses. He was inspired to make his favourite dish Koliwada Prawns, a childhood memory he had of eating out as a kid and relishing on the deep fried prawn dish that he would have whenever he went out for a meal with his grandmother. Their courses –

  1. Appetizer – Prawns Koliwada
  2. Main Course – Chicken Pineapple Salan with Fragrant Rice
  3. Dessert – Double Ka Meetha

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After a fun rick ride and hunting for all the ingredients on our list we made our way back to the hotel. It was really cool to have Chef Ravi take me through the shortcuts in the hotel to get to our kitchen. He said he knew the hotel in and out as he had worked here as a chef. When we reached the main kitchen, Chef Vishal and Vikram had already prepped on our behalf. The kitchen was bustling with energy, everyone in their own element chopping, kneading, grilling, mixing. It was a treat to watch everyone at work. But it was not all work and no play, soon we had chefs teasing each other, stealing ingredients and we witnessed all sorts of crazy shenanigans. We were enjoying every bit of it. It was really cool to see all chefs take their phones out at every step of making the dish to click pics and post it instantly on Instagram and Twitter. Posing for whacky selfies, and clicking ‘food pics’ made for a superfun cook off.

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That was not all. We then had to present our dishes for Chef Toine and the judges to judge our work. It was a pretty sight to have all the participating teams display their work. There was creativity and a beautiful story that truly brought out the essence of this cook off. We had a great time being in the kitchen and cooking with chefs. They not only gave us tips and tricks to cook, well but also spilled some industry secrets that we could use in our kitchens. Finally, we were all winners. Our proud moment was when Chef Toine presented each of us with our own chef’s jacket. It was an fun experience that we will cherish for a long time.

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