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Dehradun girl bags the top spot at Young Chef India Schools 2018

Cheers and laughter filled the air as Guneev was declared the winner.

Eight contestants had their sights set on the top spot as they battled it out at the grand finale of Young Chef India Schools 2018, presented by International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), in association with t2, at IIHM’s Badarpur (Delhi) campus. All they had was two hours to cook a main dish, two accompaniments and a pre-decided dessert— Gulab Jamun Cheesecake. Who emerged as the winner and took home the trophy along with a cheque worth Rs 2 lakh? Read on to know.

Suborno Bose (left), the chief mentor and CEO of IIHM, presents the trophy to Guneev. “The essence of this competition is to make our children self-proficient in basic cooking as part of their life skills, thus helping in shaping them as complete individuals. The contribution of IIHM is to inculcate this culture in them,” said Bose.

THE WINNER

Know Guneev

Age: 17

Studies in: Class XII, Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun

Hobbies: Cooking, painting and dancing

Favourite food: Desserts 

Wants to be: Pastry chef

A t2 chat with Guneev Sachdeva from Dehradun (North Zone) — winner of Young Chef India Schools 2018, who also bagged the prize for the Best Main Course.

What was the winning moment like?

I was literally on top of the world. Since morning everyone around me was so positive but I didn’t want to keep any expectations. After all, it always seems impossible until it’s actually done. When the announcement was made, for a minute I couldn’t really believe it. Suddenly there were so many messages and  phone calls. The love and support I received at that moment and throughout the journey from my school, teachers, family and friends has been incredible. I can’t thank them enough. But this is just the beginning... I have miles to go. 

How have your friends, family and school reacted to your win?

They are more happy and excited than I am. They are very proud and it feels amazing to be the reason behind their smile. 

How did the final round go for you? 

The final round was the most crucial one. It was tough no doubt but I tried my best to stay calm and organised and pretty much succeeded. In every round something or the other used to go haywire but the finale was definitely my best shot. 

What did you take back from the competition?

A lot. I took back with me a lot of memories and a lot more confidence. I myself felt how my confidence level went up round after round. I took back the right exposure I needed as I want to build a career in the food industry. 

Why did you decide to participate?  

Every year the home science girls in Class XII from my school participate in this competition and each one of them leaves a mark. I had a legacy to carry forward. Moreover, I wouldn’t have got the right exposure to the industry had I not participated. 

What is your earliest memory of being in a kitchen?

Kitchen has always been my favourite spot, be it in my home or school. And to be honest, I don’t even remember the first time I cooked something completely on my own. 

What do you plan to do with the prize money?

I plan to use it to build my culinary career and dreams. 

THE FINALISTS

Pratiksha Hinduja, Bangalore

The youngest of the lot, Pratiksha came across as a confident young lady.

She cooked: Veg Tangdi Kebab Surprise, Curry Chicken, Doi Maachh and Gatte Ki Sabzi. 

She said: “YCI 2018 has given me happiness, confidence and has made me believe in myself apart from teaching me about flavours, time management, hygiene, plating, waste management and so much more,” said the 
16-year-old student of Frank Anthony Public School.

Mrunal Khedekar, Pune

This 18-year-old is inspired by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

She cooked: Paneer Pulao, Khasta Kachori, Arbi Ki Sabzi, Kamal Kakri Chips and Pudina Raita.

She said: “The whole experience is so overwhelming. I feel great about the fact that I was among the top eight contestants of India. I am glad that I got to show my talent on this platform,” said the student of 
St. Patrick’s Junior College.

Sarthak Soni, Calcutta

This 17-year-old is passionate about cooking and wants to cook for chef Ranveer Brar. 

He cooked: Shimla Makhani, Tandoori Nadru (lotus stem) with Paneer and Paneer Peyaz Paranthas.  

He said: “I learnt to cook in an industrial kitchen, which was exciting. Learning from one’s mistakes is important and I think Young Chef India Schools has taught me that,” said the student of Birla High School.

Suvankhi Roy, Calcutta

A confident 17-year-old, Suvankhi was bubbling with energy.

She cooked: Creamy Mint Prawns, Nadru Fried Rice and Ghee Hummus. 

She said: “The things I have brought back with me are friendship, patience and an insight into what my life might be a few years down the line,” said the student of Modern High School For Girls.

Tanya Yadav, Gurgaon

A hard-working girl, Tanya bagged the award for Best Dessert.

She cooked: Maachher Paturi, Shahi Parwal and Stuffed Capsicum. 

She said: “I have learnt that one should stay calm and focused. This competition has helped me grow as a cook,” said the student of DAV Public School, Sector 49, Gurgaon.

Zahan Gafoor, Bangalore

This shy 17-year-old received the award for the Best Organised Chef.

He cooked: Crispy-Skin Fish, Spiced Rice and Parwal Stuffed with Arbi. 

He said: “I have learnt to manage time, work on my planning skills and the need to improvise. I have learnt to express myself and have grown as an individual,” said the student of Mallya Aditi International School.

Siddhi Rashivadekar, Pune

This 17-year-old loves cooking Indian and Italian dishes and sees herself as a chef in future.

She cooked: Laccha Parantha, Lotus Stem Kofta Curry and Kurkuri Bhindi.   

She said: “It is my most unexpected journey till date. I gave my best and I am proud of myself,” said the student of SNDT College of Home Science.

A masterclass in the morning on the day of the finale by chef and judge Sanjay Kak meant waking up at 6am but the contestants did not mind. After all, that’s where they were showed how to make the dessert for the final round.

Text: Nandini Ganguly

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