What is it that goes into making an ideal meal? More than skills and talent it's the right attitude that matters, says Malaysian Executive Sous Chef Peter Chan, an industry veteran of close to four decades and chairperson of the jury at the Indian Culinary Forum's annual Chef Awards 2019 underway at Greater Noida on the national capital's outskirts.
"To be an ideal chef is not only about having skills and talent but the most important thing is you have a correct attitude because with the correct attitude you can go far. Some people with bad attitude don't go far. With a positive attitude you can get better, you can contribute better and you believe in cooking with the heart," Chan told IANS in an interview.
"I've been working in hotels, restaurants and hospitals and have done catering for factories. I've been through many ups and downs. I've gained a lot of experience and skills and I believe that whatever knowledge has been learnt and gained should be passed on to the community that's why for the past 15 years I've been working for the community," Chan said.
How did he come to be associated with the Awards event?
The story began almost a decade back when he invited the Indian Culinary Forum team to send a jury member for Malaysia's Battle of Chefs event. The Forum then invited the Penang Chefs Association to send a jury member for the Chef Awards. An MoU was also signed between the two associations.
"We aim to encourage more youngsters to come forward, to train them and to pass on our knowledge to future chefs to improve their skills," Chan explained.
More than 100 participants from starred hotels and stand-alone restaurants are competing for honors at Chef Awards 2019 in categories like Master Chef of the Year, International Cuisine, Oriental Cuisine, North Indian Cuisine and South/East/West Indian Cuisine.
Awards are also nominated in five categories: Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cuisine, Lifetime Achievement, Golden Hat, Silver Hat awards and Best Food Writer.
How did the awards come about?
"Attending the annual Filmfare Awards in 1987 in Mumbai I realised that the hospitality industry too should honour its community," Anil Bhandari, the Chairman of the Organising Committee, and the then Mumbai-based Managing Director of the Hotel Corporation of India, told IANS.
"Chefs, till that era, were considered the back-room boys who never crossed the Lakshman Rekha of the kitchen. It was not a guideline, only a protocol that was adhered to as a tradition.
"Every morning at Centaur Juhu Hotel it was my normal practice to have my breakfast with the executive chef. I would encourage them, motivate them and praise them after sampling their innovative creations," Bhandari said, adding that as Chairman of the Tourism Committee of PHD Chamber in 2004, he helped, in collaboration with the Indian Culinary Forum, in instituting the awards for the community of chefs.
"The journey has been interesting. The level of awareness about the importance of chefs as people with knowledge of healthy and nutritious preparations and their role in building the health of the nation through their culinary talents is invaluable," explained Bhandari, a former MD of the India Tourism Development Corporation who also served as an Advisor to ITC Limited.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kanth will give away the Chef Awards here on October 21.
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