The hard fought battle for the top honours is finally and decisively over. The Winner of the Everest Better Kitchen Culinary Challenge (EverestBKCC) Season 4 Grand Finale is Ubaid Merchant, a student of Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai.
Winner receiving the scholarship cheque from distinguised guest, jury, partners and organizer. Top three winners with Veerendra Bhargava, Editor & Ekkta Bhargeva, Publisher – Better Kitchen
The other two who took away the honours on the glittering finale event that witnessed the who’s who of the industry in attendance were first Runner up Kaustubh Desai (Student of IHM, Mumbai) and second runner up Grytchyn Vaz (Student of Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA), Manipal).
Ubaid Merchant, the winner received a scholarship of USD 5750/- under Chef Scholarship’s Exchange Visitor Program (US J-1), and the first and the second runner-up winners got scholarships of USD 1000/- and USD 750/- respectively from the event sponsor Study Abroad & International Placement Partner ‘Wisdom Career Education’ (WCE).
The grueling finale that tested the culinary and presentation skills had four rounds of intense competition which evaluated the overall skill sets of participants. The event was held at Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management on Saturday 18th February.
The Finale Jury members had an illustrious and top-billing cast, and included Chef Sudhir Pai, Consultant Chef, Chef Vivek Kadam, Executive Pastry Chef, ITC Maratha, Chef Altamesh Patel, Executive Chef, Hiton Hotels & Resorts, Chef Jerson Fernandez, Culinary Director, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach, Chef Rajani Ranjan Rashmi, Executive Chef, Sahara Star, Chef Anees Khan, Founder, Star Anise Fine Foods & Leisure Pvt. Ltd. as well as Chef Tushar Malkani, Executive Chef, House of Gourmet.
In order to provide knowledge and exposure to the students who took part in the finale, four workshops on bespoke subjects that are relevant to the dynamics of the evolving industry were organized for finale participants. These workshops were very well attended and instrumental in exposing the students to topics that they received high value, and included “Food Business Entrepreneurship” by Sunny Sriram, Founder CEO, ARROW Hospitality Consulting & Member, Advisory Board – Better Kitchen, “Food Media & Styling” by veteran Girish Mistry, Dean, Shari Academy, Mumbai & Hridgandha Mistry, Director Shari Academy, Mumbai, “Molecular Mixology” by Ajinkya Chaughule, Owner, “The Bar School”, Cooperage, Mumbai, and “Interactions with HR Manager” by Stefanie D’Costa, Deputy Manager, The Oberoi Group.
The chosen theme of the competition for the Finale was “Flavours of India” and this was a culmination of a hard fought contest held in 14 cities across India namely Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Kottayam, Chennai, Bengaluru, Dehradun, Chandigarh, NCR-Noida, Pune, Mumbai, Vadodara, Jaipur, and Goa.
The contest that was popularly called “EverestBKCC” was a three level competition – Intra College, Regional/State and the Finale. During the regional competition Millet was the secret ingredient that had to be incorporated in any one of the recipe out of three which participants had prepared. Winners of level Two and a couple of wildcard entries are eligible for finale. Overall, more than 200 hotel management colleges and around 7500 students were participated in the competition.
The venerated and highly decorated Master Chef Satish Arora was the Chief Guest during the Finale while guest of honours were Nitin Nagrale, Founder Secretary, HPMF, Shatbhi Basu, India’s Bartending Queen and Sunny Sriram, ace Hospitality Consultant.
During the address Chef Arora said in his long career of over 50 years, he has not seen an industry specific event conducted so brilliantly as the Better Kitchen annual event, and he said that the industry that is operated by Chefs is starved to get recognition for their painstaking commitment to the rigours of putting their best performance in every serving, to please guests, come what may. He acknowledged the pressure and tenacity of the participants to perform to exacting standards set by the jury, and felt that the industry is in safe hands for the future.
The event was ably supported by Incredible India – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Hotels & Resorts; World renowned Chefs from Indian Culinary Forum, Western Chefs’ Association (WICA), Chefs Association of Five Rivers, Chef Association of Garhwal (CAG), Gujarat Culinary Association (GCA), Culinary Forum of Goa, and Hospitality Purchasing Managers’ Forum (HPMF).
Ekkta Bhargava, Publisher of Better Kitchen, shared that the objective of this national level culinary competition is to prepare students for the challenges of their future and to popularize Indian regional food using local ingredients in the form of global cuisine. She articulated that this contest which is a growing platform each year provides students a golden occasion to showcase their creative skills and utilize the ingredients in the proper way.
Besides giving a backdrop of the humble beginnings of the annual Culinary Challenge that unearthed kitchen stars amongst catering colleges across India and the tireless efforts to give aspiring Chefs their due, a couple of launches such as forthcoming edition going international to Dubai and the launch of the new hospitality publication ‘ENZO’ catering specifically to Front Office and Housekeeping, were announced.
Everest Spices was the Title Partner of the competition, and the other partnering sponsors were Wisdom Career Education – International Placement & Study Aboard Partner, Bajaj – Kitchen Appliances Partner, Chefs Unlimited – Uniform Partner, Asahi Kasei & Cornado – Gift Hampers Partners, Telecast Partner – Raj TV.