The sixth edition of the International Culinary Challenge and Exhibition 2023, organized by the South India Chef’s Association (SICA) took place on 15th, 16th & 17th at Chennai Trade Centre.
The event was inaugurated by Dr. K. Manivasan, I.A.S. Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu, Sandeep Nanduri, I A S, Director of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, and A. D. Padmasingh Isaac, Chairman, Aachi Masala, and Thomas Gugler, President, World Association of Chefs Societies. This event brought together seasoned culinary professionals, hospitality stalwarts, suppliers and budding chefs across India. It was the first World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS)-approved Culinary Competition in our country.
Prior to the Culinary Challenge, master training classes by Culinary Olympian Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, Vice President – F&B, Aitken Spence Hotels and his team conducted in Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad and Bengaluru for hotel chefs and hotel management students.
The three-day-long culinary challenge had 20 different categories and participants across India from different hotels, restaurants, and bakeries, as well as catering college students.
Teams of chefs from countries like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Singapore and the Maldives also participated in this event. 38 different hotel management institutes and 46 different hotel & restaurant organisations participated from across India.
Five different live competition categories, such as Asian, Western, Parotta, Briyani and Dress the Cake, were included in this edition to bring out the innate talents, skills, and application knowledge of culinary professionals.
Importance was also given to promote regional and Indian cuisine in this edition through the authentic Indian regional cooking category, and many forgotten flavours brought by the contestants were attractive in this edition. Millet cooking was one of the attractions of this competition; authentic regional Indian dishes were prepared by the contestants using millets, which attracted the attention of the audience.
The cooking competitions are judged by world-renowned chefs recognized by the World Association of Chefs Societies. The winners of the competition were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals by jury members and guests.
Chef V. Mahendran, a veteran chef from Singapore, believes that this event will take Indian cuisine to an international level, and the Indian team will have a big part in next year’s World Chefs Culinary Olympics in Germany.
Chef K.Damodaran, President, South India Chef’s Association, said that it was good to see a large number of young chefs participating in the competition, and preparing innovative dishes by the competitors using various cooking methods was really learning for every participant.
Chef N. Sheetharam Prasaad, General Secretary, South India Chef’s Association, said that the chefs were cooking many of the extinct dishes authentically. The way competitors have presented their food has raised our food to global standards.
Chef P. Baranidharan, Jury Moderator, has introduced a few live cooking competitions in this edition. This will help bring out the industry-specific skills of the competitors and help with their professional development.
The award ceremony for this edition of the Culinary Challenge was held at Radisson Blu GRT Chennai on September 18, 2023. The best hotel team overall, the Dr. Chef P. Soundararajan Memorial Trophy, was bagged by Grand by GRT Hotels with 10 gold, 16 silver, and 12 bronze medals. This memorial trophy is named after the late founder General Secretary of IFCA Dr. Chef P. Soundararajan who was also the Founder member of South India Chef’s Association.
The best hotel team overall first runner up was The Residency Towers with 5 Gold, 8 Silver and 22 bronze.
The best hotel team overall second runner up was Radisson Blu GRT Chennai with 1 Gold, 10 Silver and 20 Bronze.
Chef M. Yuvaraj, Senior Chef De Partie, Grand by GRT Hotels was awarded the Outstanding Pastry Chef title. IHM Tharamani Chennai was awarded Best Participation Institute.