If you would remember this post from last year, I was invited to the preliminary round of Hyatt Culinary Challenge, 2015, by J and it was great! This time, the judges for the prelims included Rajen Bali, Aniruddha Roy Choudhuri and Arijit Dutta, and the event was a lot of fun.
Of course, between the posing and eating as many canapés as we could find, before settling for some sushi and white wine, there was an hour of busy activities where the cooks prepared their dishes. They were accompanied by youngsters from the Smile Foundation, and we saw some serious work going on.
Meanwhile, the judges were not idle. They went around, looking at the contestants, and took notes. They talked about the dishes, discussed the ingredients used, and also checked whether the entire process was done in a hygienic manner or not (for there were points in that area too!).
the chicken croquettes
The teams were segregated into different colours, including indigo, red, and blue, all colours from the VIBGYOR, and there were several prominent corporate houses who sent their representatives, including SREI and the US Consulate. I was extremely happy to see one lady crack out a paella pan, and knew this event would be interesting.
As per their website “The Hyatt Culinary Challenge brings together individuals from the corporate realm on a common platform where they showcase their culinary expertise and passion for food in a unique culinary event. Each participant is paired with a child from the SMILE foundation, Hyatt’s partner NGO in India. Together, they execute a recipe of their choice for the judges.”
So, after a number of drinks, photo shoots, and what seemed like absolutely endless amount of food, we were at the point where a decision was to be made.
The Spicy Tuna Sushi was pretty good, although the Lebanese counter attracted many too. However, I am a sucker for good tuna.
The participants, meanwhile, had whipped up quite a storm. There were some common dishes, like the Kolkata-style Chilli Chicken, which was nice. But, the combination of innovation and execution won the day!
Here are a couple of shots of the winning dishes.
Look! Paella pan! And that Paella was rather gorgeous.
The runners up won her prize with a honey mustard glazed fish – which was nice, but somehow felt a bit too strong in the marinade outside, and rather bland within.
Then came the surprise – there were two winners – and both were pretty much as far away from each other as possible. On one hand was the Baby Corn Cigars with the Paan Shots. On the other end was the Paella, redolent with bacon and seafood. Both were great dishes, and deserved winning! Now, one would represent Kolkata in the grand finale, which would be held in Grand Hyatt, Mumbai on November 15th, 2015.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to Hyatt Culinary Challenge prelims by the management.