There was a huge vibe of energy from all of us as we jumped out of the car near the spell-binding water fountain at the entrance of The Gem Park Hotel, Ooty. We gazed at the wonderful eco-friendly surrounding and at the vintage Citroen (car) parked there, before strolling inside.
The first thing that caught my attention when we walked inside the hotel was the amazing interior. I found the atmosphere friendly and home-like and gave out a lively vibe. We sat there for a minute taking everything in till we met the Manager of Gem Park and Chef Mr. Prathap who took us to the floor where all the different kitchens were. We passed through the Toda café and the Live- kitchen; where they were continuously making dosas and excitedly entered the Indian kitchen.
We were all first made to wear white chef hats, and then Mr. Prathap showed us all the different kitchens there, which include: the Tandoor, the Bakery (which hit me on the face with a delightful smell as I entered), the Continental kitchen, Pantry kitchen and the Chinese kitchen (which unlike the other kitchens was in a different floor as Gem Park has a separate Chinese restaurant).
There was also the Butchery where meat was handled and a Walk-in Freezer which looked like a small room and had all the raw ingredients needed. It was set to -18° Celsius and was freezing when we walked in.
We then separated ourselves into three groups – one group helped out in the Chinese kitchen, one in the Bakery and one in the Indian and Pantry kitchen.
The group that helped out in the Chinese kitchen learnt how to chop carrots in the julienne style (which is basically extremely thin strips and is mostly used in noodles, chopsuey, etc…)
The baking group baked two huge trays of Vanilla Sponge Cake with the help of Mr. Prathap and broke fifty five eggs in the process. They also learnt to bake croissants using margarine instead of butter. Margarine is a product made of vegetable fat and is a cheaper alternative for butter. It is used to make everything from cakes to puffs.
The group that volunteered to help in the Indian and Pantry kitchen learnt how to properly stir-fry vegetables in a frying pan with dexterous movements, from Mr. Deepesh who made it look so trouble-free. We also learnt the process of making Jeera rice, Dal fry and vegetable cutlets from Mr. Summit and Mr. Shiva who were the Head Chefs (who had to taste and approve every dish before it reaches the customer’s plates).
After we were all done helping out in our respective kitchens we tasted each other group’s delicious delicacies and then waved goodbye to the talented chefs there.
My visit to the Gem Park kitchen taught me about the hardships chefs go through and how they overcome them using their creativity and spontaneity.
Some of the recipes that I have mentioned above are shared.