Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, one of the two celebrity chefs for the event, cooking his Gosht Badam Pasanda
Last weekend I got the opportunity to attend the Hyatt Culinary Challenge 2016 Grand Finale at Hyatt Regency, Chandigarh.
This is the third year of Hyatt Culinary Challenge, which started in 2014. To actively involve as well as encourage Hyatt’s patrons in the corporate world to explore their passions in the field of cooking, Hyatt India introduced this concept of a culinary challenge between senior representatives from the corporate world across 13 cities and its 24 hotels in India. Each of the participating hotels invited elite corporates to participate in a cook off in their respective cities and show off their cooking skills. A winner was selected from each city and on 19th November the 13 winners competed in the Finale for a chance to win the grand prize.
For the culinary challenge, Hyatt India partnered with SMILE foundation and a child from the foundation was paired with each guest participant for the cook-off, assisting them during the 90 minutes they had to prepare and plate their dish for the judges. The idea behind this is to expose these kids to various different professional options in the hope that for some it may lead them to discover and harness a skill they never thought of exploring before.
The judges for this challenge included Marryam H Reshi, food critic and writer, Rocky Mohan, Director Mohan Meakins and Kurt Straub VP Operations Hyatt Hotels, and having tasted samples of the stuff the contestants were cooking, I am sure it must have been a tough job to judge all those 13 dishes.
The ladies stole the show with Benazir Hussain’s mutton biryani and lamb chops bagging the first prize, an all expense paid trip to Andaz Tokyo. Ambika Phillips unique dishes (in name and taste) won her the second prize, an all expense stay in Hyatt Delhi.
One of Ambika Phillips winning Lookh me- a Hyderabadi keema samosa made. On asking the story behind the names of her dishes like Lookh Me, Hyderabadi Pardah Murgh, Shahi Missu, she said it was a secret and did not let me on it.
Besides getting to taste the amazing food that the contestants had prepared I also got to learn a few tips from them.
It was fun watching the winner Benazir cook, and her husband constantly motivating her from the side. When Benazir dum cooks her biryani she puts a pot of hot starch water (the same water she used for her rice) on top so that the heat dissipates not only from the bottom fire, but also from the top. The reason for using starch water, Benazir explained is because starch water retains heat longer that just plain hot water. A trick that I had not seen before, but something I am going to be following from now on.
Winner Benazir cooking her mutton biryani, chettinad style.
The hot starch water pot on the top to dum cook the biryani
Overall, it was a fun filled night, with lots of food and even great company. What better company for a food blogger than people who share the same passion for food and cooking as her. Here are some pictures from that night.