Giving finishing touch to the five dishes before the final whistle, Aditya Kumar Gupta, a professional chef, hoped that he made the grades by pleasing the palates of police officials to get a government job.
Gupta, who works in one of the leading restaurants in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, was one among the 4,000 aspirants, including four chefs from the city’s gourmet kitchens, who competed with each other for the 78 vacancies for police cooks.
“I work with Krsna on Main Road, one of the best restaurants in the city for vegetarian buffs,” said Gupta.
He said if he made the grades he would have a secured future as the Jharkhand police are offering salaries in the pay scales of Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000.
Manish, who goes by one name, a curry chef at the popular Capitol group in the city, said: “I am just trying out my luck. I made a chicken curry with roti, accompanied by salad and a vegetable curry.”
RK Chowdhary, deputy superintendent of police and in-charge of the recruitment drive, said there were three aspirants, who claimed they were professional chefs.
“There was one in the final round, who claimed he cooked at Kaveri, a leading hotel chain. But most of the aspirants came from the heartland and some were road-side food vendors from the city,” he said.
Sailesh Kumar, a Jamshedpur-based food vendor said, “With so many candidates in the fray, it is all about luck. If I don’t make the grades, I will go back to Jamshedpur and continue selling Chinese dishes.”
Swargini Marandi, 23, from Sahibganj’s Ranurpur village, about 450 km north of Ranchi, who prepared a “slow-cooked” chicken dish, said: “I have spent more than Rs 2,500 on travel, accommodation and buying ingredients but it was worth it and I am happy that I made it to the final round.”
An examiner, who asked not to be named, said, “Aspirants from rural Jharkhand surprised us with dishes that were unknown to many of us.”
Selected cooks will be posted with police pickets and camps of the Jharkhand Armed Police, Jharkhand Jaguar, Indian Reserve Battalions and the Jharkhand Industrial Security Force in the Naxal-affected zones of the state, he said.
This is the first time a tedious process of recruiting cooks has been undertaken, to keep transparency and ensure genuine candidates are selected, said Harinarayan Ram Mahali, chairman of the Jharkhand police recruitment board.
“The primary parameter of the test is to see if the cooking is good, healthy and tasty,” he said.
“The 10-day long recruitment drive started on January 29 and the final round was held on Thursday. The results will be announced by the end of this fiscal after scrutinizing the documents of the selected candidates.”
Earlier the Jharkhand police used to hire cooks on contract for police stations, pickets and camps and regularized them later. Cooks were not tested on their proficiencies and most of them learnt their skills from seniors.