The Truth About Banquet Kitchens, Two Delicious Men and An Uninspired Meal; Nokia AppTasting Event in Mumbai

Have a look at the Nokia Dream App Contest. Courtesy

Name: Nokia Apptasting, Indibloggers Meet

Location: Banquet Hall, Taj Lands End, Mumbai

Date of Visit: 19th August, 2012 (Dinner)

My blogger friends referred to the food at the Nokia Apptasting Event as ‘Shaadi Ka Khana’, I understand their point of view. It is true that in 90 percent of the Indian weddings it’s hard to tell paneer butter masala from dum aloo or chicken kadhai. I have worked in a banquet kitchen. The non-motivated cooks don’t care about what the food looks like or tastes like, they cook in large quantities and the items carry an ensemble of common dishes. The flavours don’t matter as long as the food is edible. The general standard of a banquet kitchen, many a times is very non- ambitious, run-of-the-mill food. Although it always surprises me how any man with a creative mind does not care to better the taste of the dish.

In many ways the work of a commis or Chef De Partie is very monotonous because standard recipes have to be prepared with standard ingredients day after day. Unless superiors revise the menu there is no change in how much chili or salt you can add to a dish, making the restaurant kitchen a far less glamorous place than you would imagine.

One of the more important jobs of any Chef is reducing food wastage and creating value for money. Someone at Taj Lands End must have taken this responsibility more seriously than we like. The basa appetisers that were served to us generously were a testament that the not-so-fresh seafood would be thrown if it wasn’t served and literally force fed to us. Other appetisers like paneer tikka, stir-fried potato, vegetarian kebabs were being served too, but the fish was served 10 times over than any other appetiser.

It is acceptable to serve generic items like dal makhani, chicken curry and paneer at an event like this but it is unacceptable to be served food that is tasteless with thin curries and dried out meat. The chocolate mousse was average and so was the rice kheer. There was not one item on the entire menu that evening that could be accused of being special or good. Lesson learnt, don’t throw a wedding party at Taj LandsEnd banquet, better still don’t attend one either.

The evening was pleasant, the two charismatic hosts, Vikas Khanna and Rajiv Makhni made it interesting. There were many fun activities with quizzes and games for the bloggers. I started enjoying the evening more after I went up for a chat with Vikas Khanna and Rajiv Makhni, and won 2 portable Nokia chargers. They answered a lot of interesting questions about food and technology. They also enlightened us about Nokia’s Apps.

I am an App technology virgin, like you would believe that, no, no one’s is a technology virgin in today’s times but I am fairly new to the concept. Rajiv familiarized us with Food related Apps like foodspotting, where in you add the picture of a dish you ate and write about where you ate it and a one liner about what you think of the dish. Similarly, there was an App that wasn’t demonstrated but spoken about, the Cocktail App. I really liked the concept of this App, you feed in the ingredients you have, and a list of cocktails you can make with the available ingredients appears on your phone with the recipes. Then there was the food & wine pairing app which has created a buzz in the Indian food & Beverage industry in the last couple of months. Many wine companies such as Sula wines have also come up with such an app for iPhone and Android. In this app, you feed in information about the food you are eating and it generates a list of wines that will pair well with this food. It also tells you about the character of the wine like the dryness, tannins and as such.

I have to admit my favorite Apps were not the ones about food. There was an app that allows you to search destinations, nearby places and directions, even in remote places without the using GPS on the phone. Another Nokia App I liked was an App that allows you to choose the best shot of each individual and merge it in one group photograph.

The best part of the evening was that I had a great time with my blogger friends, we criticized the food together, hooted for each other as we went up on stage, took pictures and chatted with our hosts together and made jokes about being served freakishly sweet, non-alcoholic drinks only, when our male counter parts were being served black label. It was a great evening with disappointing food.


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