Grand Opening - Masters of Food and Wine, Park Hyatt Chennai


Park Hyatt Chennai's Masters of Food and Wine programme for 2015 started with the Grand Opening Ceremony on February 21st at the Apartment. It was a soiree of sorts with guests from different countries, wine, cocktails and canapes doing the rounds and the sultry voice of a singer adding to the charm of the evening.

It was then time for introductions and we met visiting chefs Eunseok Yang and Kyuchon Lee from Grand Hyatt Incheon, here to showcase Korean food, and Park Hyatt's rockstar chefs headed by Executive Chef Grzegorz. We were told there were 6 live stations, among them cuisine specialties from Korea, France and Mexico.

At Chef Megha's French station, there was nicoise salad - baby potato, green beans, cured olives and cherry tomatoes in an anchovy dressing and topped with seared tuna. It was a beautiful amalgamation of colours and flavours.

Chef Rathina was busy at the cold counter making wafer thin slices of Indian snapper which he proceeded to wrap around green apple batons and orange segments in a lime dressing. Micro greens, dill and baby coriander were artfully arranged as a garnish. Sublime!

Platters of cold cuts sat pretty at their stations. Tomato slices and mozzarella cheese with basil pesto sauce found their way into my plate.

There was plenty of bread and cheese on display along with palate cleansing green apples, grapes, dry fruit and fruit spreads.

Kimchi and squid pancakes

At the Korean counter, Chef Lee and Chef Greg were flipping over haemul pajeon - squid pancakes and kimchi jeon - pancakes with fermented cabbage (kimchi), the national dish of Korea. Of the two, I preferred the one with squid.

On the other side, bowls of bibimbap were being readied. Originally a royal dish, this was a vegetarian version - sesame oil infused rice topped with finely cut and cooked vegetables and a spicy red sauce spooned over. I was transported to food heaven in an instant.

Cinnamon punch topped with pine nuts was served in little glazed jars. I was hesitant to try it but did after gentle coaxing by the chef; just one sip and I was hooked. There was also sweet pumpkin porridge and it was all that it promised and then some more. The colour of burnished gold, it was smooth and had peas for texture. Delicious.


Cha cha cha-ing over to the Latin American station, it was a sight to see the mound of tamales. I got mine topped with cumin flavoured pulled chicken braised stew, refried beans, sour cream and salsa pico de gallo. This was another of my favourites of the evening.

And for those who wanted it all, there were plantain enchiladas and tacos as well. Mama mia!!

Back to Chef Megha for the main course that everyone was raving about - beef bourguignon. Fork tender beef cooked to perfection with a pearl onion confit, orange zest and served with Jerusalem artichoke foam and an achingly delicious brown sauce deep with flavour. Micro greens completed the plating and it tasted every bit as good as it looked.

The Indian counter had some aromatic biryanis, among them kattal (jackfruit), Banjara lamb and Malabar prawn biryani.  At another counter, the chef was pan frying some interesting looking tikkis. They turned out to be patties made of turkey, chicken and fig - bhatak aur anjeer ki tikki. It was served on a mini taftan, saffron flavoured leavened bread and topped with a tomato onion gravy with a scattering of shredded carrot and capsicum strands. The tikki was melt in the mouth soft and the bread soaked up the flavours. This was one other dish that was a straight trip to food heaven.

I loved the way the the desserts had been arranged - on tables, in alcoves and some even in drawers! Chefs Dinesh and Prabu must have had a whale of a time doing these treats. There were beautifully presented coffee pavlovas topped with fruit slices, chocolate decadence that tasted of Bounty bars, macarons, exquisite chocolate & coffee tiramisu mini domes, mango cremeux coconut parfait, mandarin & passion fruit meringues and sliced pears belle Helene served with ice cream and various toppings. There were more including a raspberry and coffee frozen yoghurt. 

The good news is that The Flying Elephant is the venue for A Taste of Korea that will be on till February 28th. There's plenty of Korean delights on the menu, including the jeons and bibimbap that we had a taste of.

If you love your biryani, do get your fill of it at the Dining Room. The Biryani Bouquet is also on till February 28th. The bouquet comprises biryanis in the Lucknow, Hyderabad, Dindigul and Ambur styles...and round it off with lip-smacking Indian desserts, of course.

Bake a pie at Gormei Market


"Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie"...nope, none of these pies will have blackbirds in them. One of them will have blackberries though.

Pies - delicious pastry crust, a fruit filling and a topping. Serve them hot or cold with a drizzle of cream or even ice cream.

Catch this workshop at Gormei Market on Sunday March 1st, from 3 -6.30 pm. On the agenda -

*Blueberry pie
*Cherry streusel pie
*Apple and blackberry galette
*Chocolate mousse pie

At Gormei Market
6, CIT Colony, 2nd Main Road, Chennai 4.

Cost: Rs.1000/participant
Payment Options: Cash/Card/Online Bank Transfer
For registration contact:
Phone: 4217 2229

Chennai Food Guide turns 10


If you live in Chennai, love food and are active on social media, the Chennai Food Guide (CFG) is a good resource group to be a part of. Food related banter, where to dine - be it at restaurants or street carts, where to shop for ingredients that range from vegetables to caviar, or even if you want to learn a spot of cooking, CFG members are at the ready with up-to-date information.

It's been 2 years since I joined this group and even though I've lived at Chennai for close to 20 years, I've learnt more about the Chennai food scene in the last 2 than in the previous 18. And that's saying something for someone whose business is food. What took me so long to know of the existence of CFG? Well, I became 'active' on Facebook only 2 years ago... and I need to say that my interest in blogging grew after I joined CFG. For once, I could put a face to some of my readers whom I'd met at CFG conducted programmes like the beach cookouts, chef table meets, food walks and cooking and photography workshops.

CFG is now all of 10 years old and birthday celebrations are underway. This year, the party is going to be at The Westin, Chennai. Of particular interest to bloggers like me is that CFG has managed to bring together the big cheeses in the F&B industry, chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs, bloggers, foodies and food critics under a food network programme- the Blogger Development Initiative. If you are a food blogger, this one is right up your alley - "This first of its kind and possibly the largest congregation on food networking event in Chennai is for like minded food/ recipe bloggers, Hoteliers, Chefs, F&B Professionals, Home Bakers/ Chefs and others with interest in realm of Food. This program aims to create a congenial and transparent eco system for both: the social media professionals and F&B business to interact well and bring about responsible and qualitative product/ service offering. Chennai Food Guide proposes to pledge considerable resource to conduct classes on writing skill enhancement on food, development of food photography skills, technology in Social Media and leading trends and tools to bloggers, exploration of new Cuisines & Basics of Cuisine Arts & Science with the help of supporting F&B businesses." 

And just in case you think food blogging is the preserve of those with years of experience in food, do get inspired by, the youngest food celeb in India. 

If you'd like to be a member of the Chennai Food Guide, do hop over to their page on Facebook and send in a request to join the group. As a member, you'll get to know of various food events conducted by the group, learn lots of new recipes, avail dining offers from various restaurants in the city and a whole lot more. 

To join the party, drop a mail to Sub: Registration for Networking Event.

Sign up and be a part of the birthday celebrations at The Westin Chennai on February 28th. It will be an evening of fun, games and food of course. 

Quiche, Pies & Tarts Too - a workshop


A lot of folks find working with pastry intimidating. I have my personal demons in that department but I do love working with shortcrust pastry. A good shortcrust is light, tender and crumbly and that's what I like to use as a crust for quiches. And in a lot of other recipes.

At the second part of the workshop on Quiche, Pies and Tarts, learn how to make shortcrust pastry and fit it perfectly into a flan tin. On the menu, there's -

- a healthy spinach pie,
- Indian flavours in a tandoori chicken and paneer tart,
- a chicken and mushroom tart topped with pastry and
- lemon tart slices.

On February 21st, at Kottivakkam, from 10.30 am-2.30 pm.

A thali from Vaishno Thali


It was a simple request on my Facebook account - to taste the thali and post a review. Then came the interesting bit - the thali was just 50 rupees. Really? I've forgotten a time when anything was available for Rs. 50/ and here I was being offered a meal of phulkas, rice, dal, a vegetable and salad for that amount. Sure, I told the young man, and while at it, please make it 2 thalis  and please deliver it in time for dinner.

The food was to reach at 8pm but at that appointed hour, what I got was a phone call. Directions were given and within the next 5 minutes, he was at my door with 2 plastic bags.

Chatting with the young man, we learnt that this catering service called Vaishno Thali, had been started a year ago. Run by 2 brothers, they had a team of cooks from the Uttar Pradesh/Delhi belt and the food was typical of that area.

The packaging was neat, the food had been sealed in foil packs. The thali consisted of 4 phulkas, a bowl of chickpeas - chole masala, thin dal and  plain rice. There was no salad but there was a little mint chutney.

The phulkas, about the size of a handspan, were very soft. The chole that accompanied them was well cooked and had a good balance of flavour and spice.  

The rice was of a good quality and had been cooked perfectly. I found the dal too watery but am told that is how pulses are served in North India. It had been tempered with mustard and cumin.

The mint chutney was also a tad watery and a little spicy. I wasn't sure what it was doing in that thali but it was a good accompaniment to both the chole and dal. I did wish there was a vegetable to square off the meal - 2 kinds of pulses in the same meal was a bit of a protein overdose.

We liked the fact that the meal tasted home made. As for the quantity, I think it should be just fine for a hungry bachelor. I shared one portion with the husband and it was enough for us. It was a simple meal and tasted fresh. For that price, it was worth every bit of the cost.

Vaishno Thali makes only vegetarian food and a different menu is served everyday, both for lunch and dinner. At times, their menu has stuffed parathas. Instead of the mint chutney, you might find a salad or even raita in  the thali. They deliver within a 10 km radius, between Besantnagar and Thuraipakkam.

They can be reached at 9840094099 or even at  

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