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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cook Off Contest - Good Concept - Badly Planned


As a food blogger, I do get invitation to attend many culinary events, such as food demonstrations, restaurant review or potluck parties. I like to go for such events because it gives me content to write on my blog and I get to meet many interesting (and not so interesting) people during these meets.

First things first…what is your idea of food blogger?

Are they the bunch of food crazy bloggers who are always seeking free meals in a shiny restaurant? Why do they get invited? Are they The-last minute-save-the-face-fill-the seats-guests-that-highly-priced-paid-media-refused-to-attend?

Food bloggers like me are passionate about the food and we like to share our love for food with our readers. We are honest and blunt; and more importantly, we are not looking for free meals, we just want content for our blog, a knowledge to share. We solely write for our own pleasure. We know all about taste, presentation and the creativity of a dish.

This week I received an invitation from Rohini Dey, to attend a cook-off for vermillion restaurant. I had deleted the first invitation to this event from my mail box, but when I discovered that a food blogger friend, Rushina was to be a judge to this event, my curiosity was aroused and I wanted to attend as an audience. The second invitation came, inviting me to two events, a ‘cook-off’ event at Indigo and ‘’meet and greet’ at IBar, (a launch of new restaurant) I willingly accepted both the invitations.

When I reached the venue, I looked for the hostess, Rohini Dey, to say hello. I looked for the participants who were to be judged for their culinary talent, I looked for the cooking stations.  My bad! I had misunderstood it all! We were not invited to watch the participant prepare a dish. We were invited to watch the judges eat!!!


This must be the most embarrassing moments for the judges too. How could one taste food when thousand of cameras flash on every bite they take?

It would be more appropriate if there were 2-3 extra plates prepared for the audience too and placed on separate tables for the media to taste and click pictures if they wished and let the judges taste the food in peace.

I am still confused as to why the food bloggers like me were invited? We could not hear the conversation (there was no mike), we could not see the presentation (the creativity of the dish was visible only at the judges’ table,) we could not taste the dish (it was cooked only for the judges)

 The photographers, writers and bloggers looked uncomfortable because nobody offered them a glass of water, not before the event, not during, nor even after the event.

I am hoping that they will pay attention to these details when they have one more event at Delhi the next week.

After the event, I ordered a cup of coffee for my friend and I. We waited for 20 minutes, but the coffee did not arrive. What were they thinking???? Hello! I was willing to buy my own cup of coffee.......

In a place like Mumbai, where the distances are far to reach, there is heat and dust, a blogger spends his/her own money to travel to the venue, surely he/she deserve a warm welcome, no?

Truly disappointed!!!

No! I am not greedy! But I have never been treated like this. Besides blogging, I also work for the welfare of underprivileged, mentally challenged children. Sometimes I make home visits to see the child's behavior at home. Some of the children do not even have a chair in their home to sit. I cannot describe the love and affection I see in their eyes. They may not have enough money to enjoy the luxuries of life, but when any guest visits them, they will always offer food and drinks, they will talk to you and make you comfortable. 

A glass of water is MUST.

I didn’t know who this Rohini Dey is, till I saw her at the table addressing the room. The owner & Founder of Vermilion, The women behind the Indian Latin restaurant known for its pioneering cuisine in NYC & Chicago. A leading restaurateur! A proponent of Indian cuisine with her unique Latin-twist indeed!

Alas! Such is the hospitality of the person in food industry!

I made up my mind of not attending any more of such events and sent in my email to the organizer.

HelloThis is to inform you that I won't be attending your party on Wednesday at IBar My friends (Bloggers) and I had attended your ‘cook-off’ today at Indigo, and was quite disappointed with your hospitality towards your other guests. NOT Even A GLASS OF WATER was offered to the guests who attended the event. We felt like second-class citizens. If the only important people in the event were your judges and participants, why were bloggers like us invited??? Like fools we took pictures of the food that judges tasted........OMG, such fools we are.... Still confused!! Pushpa

Her PR called me the next day, apologizing and blaming the management of the restaurant for the oversight, telling me that they were supposed to serve soft drinks and biscuits to the audience. She requested me to attend the event and give her one more chance to show her sweet hospitality. She promised to be good to me.

I am taking no chances; I have enough food at home and enough money to pay my food bills.

When she insisted that I attend, I requested her to be nice to other bloggers who were to attend the event at IBAR.

I am hoping that my food blogger friends were treated well the next day.


Coming back to the event, there were six participants and six judges to select a chef who would lead a restaurant at New York City drawing a handsome salary and permit to migrate to a new city.

My best wishes to them.

All the dishes were of Latin-Indian concept.

One of the dishes was Cauvery fish platter, avocado samosa, corn cream inspired makhani.

Ingredients for Cauvery fish

80gms Rawas (Indian salmon)
1tsp finely diced raw banana
½ tsp butter
½ tsp egg white
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp gram flour
½ tsp roast cumin powder
½ tsp asafetida
½ tsp lemon juice
Salt pepper to taste

Method for Cauvery Fish

1.    Remove excess water from fish with dry cloth. Rub salt, pepper and asafetida over.
2.   Make a mixture of raw banana, butter, egg white, mustard seeds, gram flour, and cumin
3.   Cover one side of the fish with the above mixture
4.   Place the fish on grill for a minute, then cook it in oven at temperature of 150degrees for 5 minutes. Make sure the upper crust does not turn black.

Ingredients for Prawns

28grm of Tiger prawn with tail
1tbsp finely diced red pepper
½ tsp gram flour
½ tsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp lemon juice
1tsp egg white

Method for prawns
1.    D-vein the prawn and slice it into half. Make sure the tail the tail does not separate.
2.   Remove the excess water from prawn
3.   Mix red pepper, gram flour, butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice and egg white.
4.   Roast for 5 minutes.

Ingredients for Samosa

1 tsp mashed avocado
½ tsp almond
20gms refined flour
Pinch of ajwain
2-3 drops of oil
water as required
½ lemon juice
Salt to taste.

Method for Samosa

1.    Mix avocado, almonds and lemon juice and keep aside
2.   Make samosa patti with flour, ajwain, oil and water
3.   Roll and shape into triangular pocket and stuff it with avaocado filling.
4.   Deep fry

Ingredients for corn cream inspired makhani

1/2tsp garlic paste
1/2tsp kasuri methi
500gms tomatoes
2tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp methi seeds
Salt to taste
1 tsp white butter
1tsp corn cream
1tsp ghee
½ tsp butter

Method for Corn cream inspired makhani

1.    Heat butter and add methi seeds
2.   Once the seeds start to sizzle, add garlic paste, salt, chilli paste and stir fry till butter separates
3.   Add  tomato (blanched and skinned)
4.   Blend with hand blender. Add kasuri methi and white butter, strain it through muslin cloth, then add corn cream.

Ingredients for Mash potato

100 grams sweet potato
1 tsp butter
1 tsp cream
½ tsp bacon fat

Method for Mash Potato

1.    Boil sweet potato
2.   Blend it with the rest of the ingredients

Plate Garnish

Curry leaves sautéed with mustard seeds and urad dhal.
1 papad

Serves one person

Creativity was used to arrange it in the dish to make it presentable. The judges found the concept interesting but they were not happy with the flavors.





2 comments:

Nayana Donga said...

This is really bad on the side of the organizer...how awkward to see those judges eat :)

Pushpa Moorjani said...

yes true, It was awkward for judges too and they seemed uncomfortable too :))

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