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Students team up with Michelin-star chefs in a gala cook-off
RAGINI BHUYAN  5th Oct 2013

Opera singer Ana Marie Labin judging the cooking competition held at Vasant Valley School

aamya Sharma was clearly a little dazed by what she just witnessed. "They chop so fast! We had just gathered the vegetables and before you know it, it's all in bits and pieces. What do you call it? Knife skills? Yes, that's it. If there's one thing I learnt, then that's knife skills," she said. Sharma, a 9th standard student of Vasant Valley school, is the student whose name came up in a lucky draw contest, which means that she got to assist Michelin-starred chefs in a cooking competition at their school this week.

8 chefs were divided into 4 teams, and each assigned 3 to 4 students to help them, and well as a pantry stocked with a range of ingredients.

The initiative is the brainchild of the Creative Services Support Group, a non-profit organisation started by Anand Kapoor, which aims to help youngsters gain exposure to careers in the creative services, be it theatre, art or gastronomy. Many of the chefs like the Brazilian-born Marcello Tully, Frances Atkins, Ian Curley from Melbourne and Laurie Gear, who were a part of the gastronomy summit held last year at the British High Commissioner's residence, were a part of the competition, along with some new faces like Mark Best, Alyn Williams, Michael Wignall and Roger Pizey. The 8 chefs were divided into 4 teams, and each assigned a bunch of 3 to 4 students to help them out. They were provided with a pantry stocked with a range of ingredients. The four groups had to appoint someone from their team who would go in and choose the ingredients they needed to make their dish within a designated time frame. The various teams - Red, Yellow, Blue and Green were named after the various school houses. Sharma, who ended up with the Yellow team, cracked eggs and helped the chefs clean up. "We made pasta and a Brazilian dish—scrambled eggs with banana, coconut milk and vanilla. It was bland, like porridge!" she giggles.Image 2nd

For Prithvi Raj Singh, a 12th standard student from the Green team, this was a serious affair. "I am seriously considering chef school as I love cooking. So participating in this competition and meeting such senior chefs has really made a difference. Our team made a salad using Indian spices," he says. The winning team, the Red House, made a dish of banana fritters cooked in caramel sauce. This team was headed by Laurie Gear, who had earlier been appointed a MasterChef in Britain. Ana Marie Labin, an opera singer from the Glyndebourne opera, was the judge.

Chef Frances Atkins from the Yorke Arms was a member of the Blue team, and was luckier than the rest in that she had five students helping her, in addition to the well known pastry chef, Roger Pizey, termed by the legendary Marco Pierre White as "one of finest pastry chefs Britain has ever known". "Well, Roger chose the ingredients for us and we made a pasta," she said. Atkins was all praises for the initiative. "The students were very charming. It's clear that they love their school and it shows. Everyone has been very hospitable," she exclaimed.

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