A Joy Forever: Backstage Notes of an Organiser of Delhi Gourmet Club’s Top Chef Awards Delhi-NCR 2015
NAME any restaurant mogul in the country and he was there. Rohit Aggarwal and Sharad Sachdeva (Lite Bite Foods), Riyaaz Amlani (Impresario), Kabir Suri (Mamagoto), Rahul Singh (Beer Café), Jiggs and Dildeep Kalra (representing Zorawar Kalra of Massive Restaurants), Rahul Singh (Beer Café), Ashish Kapur (Yo! China, dimsumbros and The Wine Company) and Vikrant Batra (Café Delhi Heights).
Name any independent restaurateur of note and he or she was there. Ritu Dalmia (Diva Restaurants), Shiv Karan Singh (Smokey’s), Varun and Prathna Tuli (Yum Yum Tree/Yum Yum Cha), Crescentia Scolt-Fernandes and Bernard Fernandes (Bernardo’s), Sumit and Chiquita Gulati (Gulati’s Spice Market), Naina de Bois-Juzan (Le Bistro du Parc), Pavan Jambagi (Carnatic Café), Atul Kapur (QBA) and Rajiv Aneja (Rara Avis).
Name any top chef and he or she was there. Arvind Saraswat, Manjit Gill, Sudhir Sibal, Vijay Nagpal, Shaju Zachariah, Suman Sharma, Bakshish Dean, Manisha Bhasin, Rohit Gambhir, Ravitej Nath, Nilesh De, Ramon Salto, Vikas Vibhuti, Ghulam Qureishi, Manish Mehrotra, Diego Martinelli, Sam Wong, Girish Krishnan, Neeraj Tyagi, Sahil Sabhlok, Tanveer Kwatra, Sabyasachi Gorai, Sujan Sarkar and Vikram Khatri.
Then there were hospitality professionals whom the industry looks up to — Michel Koopman, Zubin Songadwala, Nitesh Gandhi, Vishwapreet Cheema, Rajesh Namby, Sumit Bansal and Yangdup Lama — and there were the emerging heroes — Vikramjit Roy, Shamsul Wahid, Sahil Mehta, Atul Tewari, Ankur Chawla, Anahita Dhondy, Shivanjali Shankar, Zac Abbott, Vaibhav Bhargava, Dhruv Oberoi, Palki Singh and Saudamini Mathur.
If restaurants across Delhi-NCR seemed somewhat lacklustre on Sunday, August 30, it was because their leading lights were at Le Meridien Gurgaon for the Delhi Gourmet Club’s Top Chef Awards Delhi-NCR 2015 Season 2 supported by Lite Bite Foods, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, Massive Restaurants and Nestle Professional, with beverages generously provided by Ballantine’s (Pernod Ricard), Sula Vineyards and Kingfisher.
They partied and pumped hands, they collected awards and shared visiting cards, they took selfies, they got happily high, they turned emotional and they dug the lavish spread laid out by what has to be Delhi-NCR’s most innovative banqueting team — a powerhouse of collective talent that can turn chutneys into gourmet statements — led by the unflappable Executive Chef Tanveer Kwatra and his Chef de Cuisine for Banquets, Manish Tandon. Harleen Singh Rawal was the man behind the scenes and David Hopcroft, the team captain, led in his characteristic self-effacing way.
From the stage, Hopcroft announced that La Riviera, the hotel’s signature restaurant that made Kwatra a star, would be back in business before the end of the year. Off the stage, there was excitement about the major refurbishment being planned for West View on the ITC Maurya rooftop — leading the change will be Manisha Bhasin, who earned her spurs when West View opened in the early 1990s as the country’s first restaurant to be run entirely by women led by the inimitable Madhu Krishnan.
Season 2 of Delhi Gourmet Club’s Top Chef Awards, industry leaders said, set the benchmark for events in its category. Commenting on Le Meridien Gurgaon’s association with the event, the hotel’s General Manager, David Hopcroft, said, “Some of the finest minds have come together for the event and we put together a food experience befitting for our honourable guests.” Sharing the upbeat sentiment, Rohit Aggarwal, Director, Lite Bite Foods, said: “These awards have come a long way since their inception last year. They are an incredible endorsement for any serious F&B player in the country.”
Michel Koopman, General Manager, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, who overlooked the fact that the event was being held in partnership with a competition hotel and chose to sponsor the Lifetime Achievement Award, said, “Cooking, I believe, is an art that appeals not only to the eyes, but also to all the five senses, and in India, guests vote for a restaurant or a chef with their stomach!” That is exactly what registered voters belonging to the Delhi Gourmet Club, Sikandalous Cuisine and Indian Restaurant Spy Facebook communities did, pulling off a few upsets in the bargain.
The winners, of course, were on top of the moon. And Pavan Jambagi expressed their thoughts in the most memorable way: Pavan Jambagi of Carnatic Café said: “You guys are no less than family and friends. You people support talent and nurture it, which many fail to do. Even our government agencies and the system work against us.”
High praise comes at the high price of high expectations. In Season 3, the Delhi Gourmet Club will have a high benchmark to contend with.
Yours truly is also a founder member of the Delhi Gourmet Club.
For more event pictures and updates, go to www.topchefawards.com