Cooking interest

Twenty-six-year-old Neena Mohan has never been to culinary school.

Written by Nupur Chaudhuri | Published: March 4, 2012 12:55 am

Free cooking workshops and demo sessions are the new recipes for hotel promotion

Twenty-six-year-old Neena Mohan has never been to culinary school. One doesn’t need to with the number of recipes available on the Internet and the growing number of food shows on television,she says. Plus,she never misses a chance to learn from the experts. One almost always spots her at the cooking demonstrations and workshops held at different city hotels. These free lessons in cooking have become the new,popular “cooking classes” in the city. Anyone who’s interested can attend,observe the chefs at work,throw questions at them and pick up interesting tips. On Friday,almost 60 women sat rapt in attention at Mystic Masala,Vivanta By Taj Blue Diamond,as Chefs Pinto and Elangovan demonstrated typical Maharashtrian dishes of Bharli Vangi,Chicken Kolhapuri and Banana Sheera. Detailed recipes were later given out to each participant. It’s a win-win situation for them as well as the hotel,says Chef Elangovan. “There are millions of recipes for these dishes on the Internet. So why did so many people attend the demo? Because it was also a lesson in selecting the right vessels,ingredients and learning the right cooking techniques,” he says. The demo was preceded by a crockery show by Versace-Rosenthal. For the hotel,it’s a way of promoting their restaurant and fostering a better relationship with guests. The chefs spoke about the typical food of different Maharashtrian regions and shared the extensive research that went into creating their new menu.

Food is better appreciated when one understands the process of its creation. Thus,at The Westin,regulars are allowed to go inside the kitchen of Italian restaurant The Prego,watch the chefs in action and learn how a pasta is prepared or a pizza is wood-fired. Italian Chef Valerio is the newest member on the team. “He has put together a different menu which our regulars were quite curious about. Thus he held cooking demonstrations so they could learn about the sauces and dishes,” says Devesh Rawat,director,Food and Beverage. These workshops should be limited to a small group of 15 people,he feels. “Only then can it be a one-on-one class.”

The chance to make restaurant-quality food at home appeals to almost every passionate cook. The people who attend these sessions include students,newly-weds,homemakers and working professionals (if they’re held on weekends). Some immediately head home to put to test their new knowledge. “Then they come back to dine here. Some even ask me why there was a slight difference in the taste of their food despite following my steps correctly,” says Chef Elangovan with a smile. His previous workshop focused on salads and dressings.

These sessions are timed with new menu launches or festivals. Just before Christmas last year,Chef Guru Nathan,pastry chef at Courtyard By Marriott City Centre,taught eager participants how to make festive goodies. Last week,he made them choco-lise main course dishes. Think: Chocolate Chicken Kheema and Chocolate Salami. “The hotel is a few months old. It’s our way of showing Puneites what we’re all about,” he says. To add to this business angle,participants are even given discount coupons to dine at the eatery. “It works well for us. We expected a turnout of 35,but were packed with 50. Due to demand,we will conduct workshops at least twice a month,” he adds.

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