Spicing Up Dishes With A Pinch Of Responsibility

Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
If luxury hotels do not reach out to slums, their chefs do try to make up for it once a while. On November 1, the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF), an association of chefs from different hotels and restaurants in India, hosted a charity dinner at the Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi where about 40 leading chefs from different five-star hotels in the city gathered and cooked their best dishes spreading over 15 types of cuisine for a gathering of 800 celebrity invitees, including from the corporate world.

The proceeds from the eventcontributions by the invitees to donors coupon cardwere meant for two NGOsCRY and Concern India Foundation (CIF).

The charity dinner, called Chef & Child, is however not the forums first such event. In fact, this was our third charity dinner event, said Chef Sudhir Sibal, general manager of Ashok group of hotels, ITDC, who is also a founder member of ICF, which was formed in 1978-79. He added, The first Chef & Child charity dinner was organised in 1995 and the second one in 1997.

CRY was the beneficiary from ICFs first two charity dinners. There may be many NGOs, explained Chef Sibal, but we decided to pitch for CRY. From the earlier two Chef & Child events, we donated Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh respectively.

The donations that we received from the ICF before helped us a lot in funding our projects for street children, says a spokesperson from CRY. She adds, Though we dont know how much money the ICF is going to provide us this time, we are committed to using it for two projects, Ashraya and Swati, which we have undertaken in the slums of Tilak Nagar, Rama Krishna Puram and Tigri in Delhi.

However, this year the ICF chose a second NGO, the Concern India Foundation, too. This time, we had invited 800 guests but we havent yet calculated the exact figure which we can donate, commented Chef Davinder Kumar, executive chef of Le Meridien, Delhi. According to Chef Kumar, who is also the president of ICF, the money would come from the donors coupon card of Rs 1,000 each. We hope that this time well be able to donate more than what we did before. This years event was more extravagant than the last time, he added.

According to both the chefs, ICFs earlier Chef & Child charity dinners were more of a sit-down and fine dining kind of affairs. But this years event was large scale and interactive-buffet display, Chef Kumar said. We had over 100 dishes from over 15 types of cuisine, both Indian and foreign. Chefs from each hotel put up their respective stalls, cooked their best dishes and there were food tasting sessions also.

But why did the ICF take six long years to host its third charity dinner Elaborates Chef Kumar, Though its an initiative of ICF member chefs, we organise the event in collaboration with respective hotels where we work in. The hotels lend us support in the form of sponsoring the venue and kitchen infrastructure, the food and soft beverages, etc. The past few years were not good for hotel business. And since we at the ICF were planning to make it an extravagant event, the time was just not ripe for us.

Said Anjali M Chatterjee, general manager, Marketing Communication, InterContinental The Grand, Delhi, We are proud for participating in the event organised by the ICF. Our speciality chefs presented four varieties of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian biryanis. We feel that a pioneering effort like this on part of the ICF to serve the cause of the less privileged children is truly commendable and we are glad to be a part of this noble cause. We provided the food (read biryani) free of cost to our chefs who took part in the charity dinner.

The same sentiment is echoed by Anil Malhotra, F&B manager, Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi, Its been a great opportunity for us to associate ourselves with such a noble cause. For the ICFs event, we provided them the venue at a very subsidised rate and also kitchen infrastructure such as gas, utensils, etc., free of cost. He added, In fact, for the Taj Group of Hotels benevolence towards social causes, particularly for the upliftment of underprivileged women and children, has always been held in high esteem.

Chef Kumar and his fellow members at the ICF have decided to make the Chef & Child event a more regular one.