The Making of a Shrimp SymphonyBy Lavina Melwani • Sep 21st, 2012 • Category: Food
Varli’s Rising Star Chef Adventure
Once upon a time three young rising chefs were handed shrimp, an immaculate kitchen. limited time and a medley of ingredients to orchestrate into an award-winning new shrimp masterpiece. They dashed and they mashed, they mixed and they fixed, they chopped and they pureed as a lineup of pedigreed judges and VIP guests watched with bated breath and hungry stomachs.
The event was Varli’s ‘Rising Star Chef 2012′ live competition at Junoon featuring chefs under the age of 35 – Bhavesh Patel (Moghul Caterers), Shravan Shetty (Urban Spice), and Sylva Senat (Tashan). Each created a signature entrée and served a tasting to the celebrity panel of judges - noted chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor; restaurateur Rajesh Bhardwaj, and award-winning cook book authors Monica Bhide and Ramin Ganeshram.
Each chef brought out his signature dish and shared the story behind it. Just goes to show the different world views chefs have of even an innocuous ingredient like shrimp, how each pairs it with widely different ingredients – and the delightful new tastes that can emerge from such a marriage.
The judges tasted and mused and questioned and jotted down comments, and then tasted some more. Later the VIP guests also got a tasting of the three competing dishes – Shrimp Tantra Uppma served with Coconut Lemon Sauce, Tashan Shrimp Duo, and Cracked Coriander and Black Pepper Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas, Oyster Mushrooms in a Curry Leaf-Wasabi Butter Sauce. All looked delicious and pleasing to the eye, almost like works of art.
And the winner? Afraid this is an unfinished story where you won’t know the results till November when the glittering Varli Culinary Awards take place. The judges are staying mum on their decision till then. Hope the suspense doesn’t kill you – or make you too hungry! Meanwhile, there is a bonus for you – Varli has shared all three recipes with Lassi with Lavina readers and you can try these unique recipes at home, at this link: Shrimp Ahoy! Shrimp Recipes from Rising Chefs
Celebrating Indian Food – Q and A with Varli Singh
As Varli continues its mission of bringing Indian cuisine to the the American culinary scene, we talk to Varli Singh, founder of Varli Magazine, the Varli Food Festival, and now the Varli Culinary Awards.
1. Why were these three chefs chosen for the Rising Star Competition?
The Rising Star competition is about finding and honoring young culinary talent. We received applications from 20 different chefs for this award, and based on a thorough review of their resumes, background, and achievements, we selected 3 finalists to participate in the final live cook-off round. These 3 chefs all have an excellent track record of working at prestigious restaurants, have received high praise from industry experts, consistently deliver innovative cuisine, and demonstrate the potential to some day rival the best world-renowned chefs in the Indian culinary world.
2. Do you plan to have more chefs the next time around?
For 2013, we will definitely encourage even more young chefs to apply for this award so they can have the opportunity to get recognition for their talent. We felt having only 3 finalists for the live competition this year ensured it would be highly selective and manageable for the judges. That being said, we will have to evaluate what the right number of chefs is next year based on the quality of the applicant pool.
3. Which are the other contests you’ll be having to determine the awards?
We had two live competitions for the Awards – one for “Best Dessert & Pastry 2012″ and one for “Rising Star Chef 2012″. We felt these two categories would be very exciting as a live cook-off for the contestants, judges, and public, and given the nature of the category, it was also the best way to determine a true winner. Most of our other awards are being determined by general voting amongst the public.
4. Why did you feel it was important to have awards honoring Indian chefs, restaurants and food?
When we first created Varli Magazine and the Varli Food Festival, our goal was to create awareness and appreciation for Indian cuisine through different events. We worked diligently to promote the many restaurants, chefs, and dishes that make Indian food so versatile, and brought Indian cuisine to a broader audience than ever before. Now, it is time for Varli to recognize and honor those that have made an impact in the Indian culinary scene for their amazing achievements, and to give credit where it’s due. The establishments and individuals we are awarding deserve to be acknowledged for advancing Indian food on the global culinary stage, and continuing to make our world more delicious.
5. There seem to be a lot of pots cooking! What can we expect at the awards?
On November 15, 2012, Varli Magazine will host the first annual Varli Culinary Awards. This will be a global awards event honoring the “Best” global culinary talent in an array of categories related to Indian cuisine. There are three different types of awards: ‘People’s Choice’ , categories determined by a ‘Panel of Judges’ and ‘Varli’s Choice’. Other Award categories include Best Chef of the Year, Best Cookbook and Best Restaurant. The panel of celebrity judges include Food Network’s Amanda Freitag who will oversee the voting process. Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will host the Awards Gala and noted Indian-American actor Manu Narayan will be the co-host.
You can read more about the upcoming events at www.varliawards.com