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ICC 2017 by IFCA - Showcasing the culinary spirit of IndiaKundan

Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 15:31 Hrs  [IST]

Around 40 speakers, product presentations, live cooking demonstrations, national selection for Bocuse d’Or, the seventh International Chefs Conference (ICC) organised by Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA) at Pullman Hotel Aerocity Delhi between September 1 and 3 has had the aroma and flavour of a chef conference with about 800 professionals chefs including 300 students chefs attending it.

International Chefs Conference (ICC), the biennial national conference of Indian professional chefs, at the aegis of IFCA, is one of the leading and largest events of the chef community in the country. The event has evolved over the years and has attained the stature of a truly global conference in terms of its visibility and participation. The presence and participation of Chef Thomas A Gugler, President of Worldchefs throughout the three-day conference is a testimony to the kind of global attention Indian culinary industry is gaining on the world map. Chef Gugler has even mentioned that Indian industry is ready to host international events like Worldchefs Congress, which is recognition of sorts.

The theme of the seventh convention was ‘Indigenous knowledge, Sustainable Future’. Talking about the theme Chef Manjit Singh Gill, President of IFCA said that it is important that all the countrymen carry pride in their culinary heritage and work towards preserving it for the generations ahead. Unfortunately, in India, we don’t have that pride in our food and culinary heritage as much as other countries do, he said.

“Chefs are tending to be carried away by the trends, but have to understand that trends have very short life. However, it is important for chefs to update themselves and follow trends, otherwise they will be left out,” said Gugler. He appealed to chef community to work towards reducing food wastage, as the biggest challenge before the planet in the next few decades would be finding sufficient food to feed the increasing population. “People should follow proper food handling practices and should learn to approach food with respect,” he said. He advocated smaller portion sizes to avoid wastage. “By reducing the plate size from the existing 30 inches to 26 inches, we can cut down on food wastage by 60%,” he said.

IndiaKundan Lal Jaggi - Culinary Legend
Respect for Local:
The speakers at the conference stressed upon the need to respect the local food and the culinary culture. Chef Toine Hoeksel, Culinary Director, Asia Pacific, Marriott Intl., spoke on how Marriott has rediscovered its place as a favourite dining destination for locals in the Asia Pacific region. With around 600 hotels in the region, he said that F&B today contributes 40 to 45% of revenue for hotels in the region. Marriott hotels were not seen as exciting places for F&B by young travellers for a very long time. But, they have been able to change that tag by decentralising the F&B decisions and working with local entrepreneurial talent. Global F&B initiatives might not work in Asia Pacific because of the regions vastness and diversity. Free-standing restaurants will work better in the region, he said. Local entrepreneurs can react better to local market situations, he opined. Hoeksel also asked senior chefs to lead from the heart and care about the associates. The old-fashioned working style of kicking and pushing down associates has to change.

Chef Christopher Koetke, Vice President, Kendall College’ School of Culinary Arts spoke on the movement that is happening in America to rediscover the original native cuisines which has lost its visibility with the invasion of big brands like McDonald’s, KFC, etc. The native American cuisines were evolved through the influences of English, Spanish, French, and moreover the Slaves from Africa, he said. “In the US, the movement to rediscover our culinary roots is on for the last two decades. At Kendall, we focus a lot on local cuisines. Professionally, we should always value the food we grow up with and always realise how special they are,” he added.

Sharing his encounter with food while travelling around the world, renowned food critic, Vir Sanghvi, said that as cities evolve business start moving away from the city centres, which is a phenomenon around the world. When such shift happens, F&B business start moving out of the hotels to standalone restaurants, he observed. Earlier, it was in hotels where most of the F&B innovations happened, but that is changing. All unusual and daring experiments are today happening in standalone space, they are more adventurous, he said. Counter dining is a new rage all over the world, and that will pose big challenge for celebrity brands, he cautioned.

Rochelle Schaetzi, Business Capacity Development Manager, Nestle Professional spoke on the general image of the industry as an employer, issues of sustainability, etc. Hospitality industry is not considered to be a well-paying industry across the world and therefore employee turnover ratio is the highest in the industry. He advocated integrated approach to attract, recruit, develop and retain the talent in the industry to make the industry a sustainable one. She mentioned various initiatives taken by Nestle Professional and Pro Gastronomia Foundation of Nestle to support skilling and certification in partnership with Worldchefs.

Number of product presentations and demonstrations were held at the three-day convention. Presentations by Felipe Hasselmann, President, Cuisine Solutions, a leader in Sous-Vide products globally was quite educative. A presentation by Chef Zarmig Halladjian, a celebrity chef from Qatar on Armenian cuisine was also received well by the participants.

While the organisers promised many surprises at the three-day convention, what stood out and impressed the delegates was the first day’s lunch which was prepared by the mothers and grandmothers of the Chefs of the Pullman Aerocity Hotel. IFCA presidium invited the home chefs to the centre stage and recognised their effort.

IFCA Audience

IFCA also recognised people who contributed to the culinary trade and industry in the country in different ways. Kundan Lal Jaggi, the Chef who set up the famous Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi after independence, with two other partners, was recognised with the highest recognition ‘The Culinary Legend Award’. Chef Khalil Ahmed, a veteran chef from Delhi, was also recognised at the awards function. Others who were recognised for their contributions in training, education, and contributions to chef community included Chef Sudhakar N Rao, Chef Preetika Malik, Chef Mehrosh Dhanda, Chef Varinder Singh Rana, and Dr Sheri Kurian. Chef Anil Grover was bestowed with ‘Outstanding Culinary Judge’ award at the ICC 2017.

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