Holiday Inn Kolkata hosted the first edition of Bosses Cook-off on 28th July 2017 and invited the top bosses of select corporates in the city for a cooking competition along with a team of their employees.
Our CTO, Udai Singh Solanki received the invitation and decided to participate. He chose a team of 4 members – Aditya Mohanty, Isabella Grundmann and myself, Meenakshii Shivnani, with Udai being the team lead. The theme for the evening was ‘Asian’ and we needed to prepare one main dish live at the venue. So, we brainstormed and decided on a Thai dish – Gai Pad Krapow (Thai Chilli Basil Chicken) with a pickled raw papaya and vegetable salad.
When we reached Holiday Inn for the competition on Friday evening, we were in for a surprise. What we saw was like a mini Masterchef type setup – with a cold section containing a variety of meat, fish and seafood, a vegetable mart with the choicest of vegetables, local and exotic, and lastly shelves full of sauces, spices and other dry ingredients. All participants were explained the rules of the competition and the event flow.
And like in true Masterchef style, we were given a surprise task – we had to prepare not one, but two dishes – an appetiser and a main course which must include a protein, starch and vegetable. With only 10 minutes left to start, we had to quickly think of an appetiser to go with our Thai theme. We finally decided on Panko Crumbed Prawns marinated in a Thai red curry paste with a peanut dipping sauce as the appetiser to go with our main chicken dish.
At the start of the clock, there was a hurried frenzy on all the tables. We started our preps and were surprisingly done within 30 mins, thanks to the amazing coordination we had as a team. It is interesting to note that all 4 of us come from cross-functional departments, however we made a great team for this competition – the binding factor being a strong passion for food! It became like a team bonding activity for us, thanks to Holiday Inn.
While we waited for others to finish, we interacted with the hotel sales team, chefs and the 2 famous food/lifestyle bloggers – Indrajit Lahiri & Poorna Banerjee, called in as the Judges for the evening. What flowed was some good wine and great conversations.
During this time we walked around to check out what our competition was up to and saw most teams cooking up mostly dishes from the Pan-Indian region, from Bengali to Punjabi to Rajasthani.
However, we believed that our preparation, although quick and simple, was authentic, flavourful and different than what others were doing.
The last 15 minutes went by in a blur, our dishes were ready and plated and our work stations were clean. The scoring was to be done on taste, presentation and cleanliness. The 3 judges – the Executive Chef of Holiday Inn and the 2 food bloggers made their way through each of the 8 teams’ tables. After the tasting, we were escorted back into the banquet hall for the announcement of the winners.
The first set of awards went for various categories like cleanliness, time management, etc. Finally the actual winners were announced and we were pleasantly surprised to be awarded the 1stprize. Our prize kitty included – a staycation voucher at the hotel, F&B vouchers, chocolates and a “Winners” trophy.
The four of us went in not knowing what to expect. We came back with a fun experience of an evening worth remembering!
A big shout-out to Holiday Inn Kolkata for organizing a refreshing conceptual corporate event, executing it very professionally and giving us a chance to be a part of its success!
Meenakshii Shivnani is Lead Implementation Consultant at eRevMax and is a key part of the Implementation team. She is passionate about food and loves to experiment with different cuisines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org