To concoct a magic menu out of a "black box" and win a bronze medal in their debut at an international cooking contest in Russia is what a team of Indian chefs did with elan.
At the final of the Euro-Asian Festival of Cookery Art in Ekaterinburg, Russia, participants were given a "black box" which they had to open to find the mystery ingredients. And with just the given products, rustle up a magic menu.
The Indian chefs cooked a delicious French meal of tomato soup, rice, chicken, sausage, smoked salmon, celery and sauces to win the bronze at the contest, in which they were participating for the first time.
The India team sent by the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA) had to compete against teams from 20 countries that have been regularly taking part in the event, which began in 1900 in France.
The Oct 20 contest was held by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), said P. Soundararajan, the IFCA general secretary here.
"Our own Indian association is a new baby, just about three years old, set up in 2003," Soundararajan noted. The IFCA is headquartered in Chennai.
"Though Indian cuisine is hugely popular worldwide, officially, India has not been participating in many international cooking contests," he said.
The winning team comprised chef Seetaram Prasad, executive chef, GRT Grand Hotel, Chennai; chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan, executive sous chef at The Park, Chennai; and chef Ashish Gupta from Claridges Hotel, New Delhi.
The jury comprised master chefs from Britain, Spain and Germany.
The first position went to Germany that had to make a pork dish and the second to Turkey. As many as 20 countries from Europe and Asia took part, while nine qualified for the final.
The contest was in two parts. In the qualifying round, each country presented its ethnic food. The Indians served crab shorba and paranthas for starters and the main course contained murgmalai, kebabs and lemon rice. Rabri and gajar ka halwa made up the desert.
The final round was the "black box" magic menu round in which the Indian team's French meal won them a bronze.