‘Chefs need to learn a lot more than just culinary skills’

Chef Vivek Saggar, General Secretary, Indian Culinary Forum recently spoke with Asmita Mukherjee about the participation of India across various culinary competitions and the steps being taken to achieve global standards in Indian culinary competitions.

According to you, what was the need behind the Indian Culinary forum and the awards associated with it?

The Indian Culinary Forum is an association of professional chefs of India. Formed in New Delhi in 1987 as an exclusive non-profit-making organization, it is dedicated solely to the advancement of the culinary art of India. The Forum’s objective is to act as a link, a platform, and an instrument for the enhancement and overall development of the national community of chefs. Our idea behind the inception of the Chef Awards was to provide both veteran and upcoming chefs with a professional platform where they can exhibit and hone their culinary skills. We want Indian culinary art to gain more international recognition and acclaim.

As an industry stalwart, what is your view on the standards followed by the international culinary competitions and awards? Do you think that global standards are maintained in culinary competitions happening in India?

Every aspect and competition associated with the culinary arts in India is at par with international standards. Be it the certification courses for culinary, the judging in competitions, the rule book, and the process of judging – everything matches international standards. All the culinary competitions organized by the Indian culinary forum are judged by WACS-certified chefs. The selection process for the International competitions is strict and precise, matching the global standards.

Currently, tests are being conducted for the India Skills Competition- which is an initiative of the Indian Government. It is a precursor to the World Skills Competition. Under the leadership of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, India Skills Competition is specially organised by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship for young chefs to nurture their talent. This competition commences at the district level and is followed by a zonal level, where top two winners from each district are selected to participate in the next level. The top two will then compete at the state level, eventually leading to the final two participants at the national level. One amongst the top two will be selected through a best-of-three competition and will represent India at WorldSkills Shanghai in 2021.

Can you comment on the India’s participation statistics?

The number of participants may have been low but there always have been several winners from India at the global culinary competitions. Yes, participation should increase. We need support from the industry, not only in terms of training but also finances. Chefs need support to gather the required raw materials to practice more and excel.

What changes in the culinary profession do you foresee in the next decade?

A lot of automation will be there. Until and unless, the chefs upskill and become multi-skilled, there can be a loss of jobs. However, there’s no need to worry because a lot of other opportunities will arrive too. Additionally, chefs need to make their presence felt, for instance, on social media. Hence, the chefs need to learn a lot more than just culinary skills to have an edge over the others.



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