The traditional chatty and dosa kallu shared cooking space with stainless steel kitchenware here today as culinary professionals and amateur enthusiasts from across the state squared off in the finals of the ‘Kerala Chef’ competition.
Sumptuous dishes – familiar staples like a seafood mélange and little-known treasures like the Ramassery idli alike – from across ‘God’s Own Country’ had crowds thronging the Spice Route Culinary Festival competition venue at Bolgatty Palace and Island Resort.
Split over two separate finals for professionals and amateurs, some 32 standouts from the regional qualifiers held in Kozhikode, Kalamassery and Thiruvananthapuram over the past week went head to head over the course of the day.
The demographics of the participant chefs proved about as interesting as their creations. All but one of the 16 contestants in the morning finals for professional chefs were men, while the amateur finalists were mostly women – with students from culinary institutes making up the difference.
“It is a matter of pride for me to be the only woman professional chef to compete in this final. Whether I win or lose, this has been a great experience for me,” said Abida Rasheed, from Kozhikode, who hosts a number of cookery shows featuring Moplah cuisine.
Her fish biryani competed with wholesome fare from kitchens across the state with cooking enthusiasts going all out to match offerings by their professional counterparts.
“For me, it is not about who comes out on top. My main goal at this competition is to showcase traditional Kerala dishes to both the local public and tourists. If my crab roast gets people talking, my job is done,” said Arathi V.
“This was the intended purpose of the Kerala Chef competition: to promote traditional culinary fare and new talents from across Kerala in order to tap into the tourism potential of this sector. The spirit of the competition was to be educative, participatory and inclusive, like the festival,” said U.V. Jose, Kerala Tourism Director.
The winners and runners-up from both finals were felicitated at an award ceremony during the Spice Route Culinary Festival’s valedictory session in the evening.