Today’s Special – A “Quest” for Perfection
Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but they certainly know how to make a fest memorable. WGSHA Quest 2017, held on 1st and 2nd March 2017, was a one of a kind event – featuring highly competent teams from all over the country, battling it out to be crowned the best novice hoteliers in the world.
Here’s a run-down of the events that took place over a span of 2 days, after an inauguration ceremony featuring dignitaries from the food industry –
- Culinairé – Gourmet Creation: The first event of the Culinairé series took place at the DOCA Kitchen and witnessed 15 teams from all over the country battle it out to create the best entrée of the afternoon. Having been provided with a well-seasoned chicken, fresh seafood and a few staples, the teams were given three hours to get ready for service. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, here’s the catch – Just before the teams began cooking, they were each given a unique mystery ingredient that had to feature in their entrées. Despite a grueling three hours of competitive cooking, the teams looked as fresh as ever as they went in for service. As the judges dug into the creative delicacies brought before them, one couldn’t help but envy them.
- Floral Flourish: Here’s some food for thought (no pun intended) – Ever notice those exquisite floral arrangements that adorn several parts of a hotel? More often than not, we forget to appreciate the amount of effort that goes behind them. Floral Flourish served as a reminder of just that. The teams were required to exhibit originality and resourcefulness as they scrambled to finish their arrangements in under an hour. Provided with all the flowers and foliage they requested, and certain baskets and vases to put them in, the teams had to incorporate Japanese themes into their works. So the next time you’re at a hotel and see a vase of flowers next to your favourite Filmfare magazine, make sure to take in the flowers’ beauty before your favourite actor’s.
- Wow at Every Moment of Truth: Hotel staff members see all kinds of customers. Customers who’ve just gotten promotions, customers who’ve recently fought with their spouses, customers who put pineapple on their pizza – you get the point. So it is of paramount importance that they know how to treat each one differently, and make them feel at home. This is what the event was all about. The participants would indulge in a role play for 10-15 minutes, and were tested in different scenarios of guest requests, complaints, problem solving, etc.
- Restaurant Service Skills: This 2 part event tested a team’s table-setting and cocktail-making skills. The teams were to set up the WGSHA training restaurant ‘Chaya’ for an hour of service. Each team was responsible for a particular table, and had to make sure everything on it – right down to the way the napkin edges were folded – was immaculate, in under an hour.Post table-setting, one member from each team was to prepare a randomly picked classic cocktail and present it before the judges. They were then evaluated on the basis of their communication with the judges, how hygienic their method was, and how close they’d come to reproducing the vintage drinks in a time span of 20 minutes.
This was followed by an hour of service at ‘Chaya’, during which the participants displayed exemplary professionalism and competence.
- Sherlock it Out: What better way to spend your evening than a classic, time-tested treasure hunt? The 15 participating teams were set the task of scouring the path from the EDU building to the WGSHA campus. Staying observant and running around after a hard day’s work sounds like too much trouble, but seeing the enthusiasm of the teams, the onlookers too felt like whipping out their magnifying glasses and searching for clues.
- Culinairé – Mithaas: DOCA’s very own in-house chef, Chef Kaliappan S. believes that the traditional Indian ‘mithaai’ is slowly losing its essence despite being technically superior to its Western counterparts. Each team was assigned the task of preparing a South Indian sweet dish in under 3 hours after 2 hours of mise-en-place the previous day. “Indian sweet dishes are not given enough credit nowadays. Our ‘mithaai’ event aims to inspire the young culinary minds towards their revival,” Chef Kaliappan added. After pouring their blood, sweat and tears into cooking (not literally of course), the desserts that came out were worth getting diabetes for.
7. Globetrotter: One of the two events of the WGSHA quest that tested the participants’ skillfulness with a camera, ‘Globetrotter’ left the judges smiling throughout. It was probably the event that took the more preparation – “mise en place” as the WGSHA folks would call it – than any other. Wellness tourism and destination marketing were the key themes of this event. A few days prior to the WGSHA Quest, the teams were assigned the task of shooting a 3-4 minute video highlighting the key attractions of their cities. Upon reaching Manipal, they were assigned another location they had to promote via a short clip. This one being none other than the Manipal Lake. The participants were given the liberty to use their own equipment, and the outcome was nothing short of mesmerizing.
- Food-o-Graphy: Being the second event to test the teams’ photography prowess, Food-o-Graphy focused on “The Joy of Food”. The participants were given 2 hours to go around Manipal and Udupi to take pictures of moments where food actually brought happiness to its eater. “Different perceptions of what food means to different people will be brought out by this event, and that is what we want to instill in these budding chefs,” DOCA’s Chef Nithish said. No matter how complex or simple a dish is, no matter what its ingredients are, food must at the end of the day, bring a smile on our lips, and it was this exact emotion that the teams had to capture through their lenses.
- Culinairé – Painted Platters: It has rightly been said that we first eat with our eyes. No matter how hard the day has been, aesthetically pleasing food can always turn it around, and Painted Platters was all about beautiful desserts. Each team was given different sets of complementing and challenging ingredients out of which they had to use at least 3. This, along with staple ingredients, was to be brought together into a jaw-dropping dessert in under 3 hours, with 2 hours of mise-en-place the previous day. The teams were then judged on their use of the ingredients, the textures in the dessert, and its overall taste. “In the end, it comes down to whether we’d pay money to have the dish at a restaurant, and we hope the students will be better exposed to the kind of environment in an actual kitchen through WGSHA’s Quest,” DOCA’s Chef Vasanthan said.
- Jeu-Concours: Literallhy translating to ‘competition’, Jeu-Concours was held on 2nd March, the last day of the fest, from 2-3 pm at WGSHA’s AV room. The teams comprised of two members each, and the 6 shortlisted teams from round 1 were pit against each other in a quiz round, which consisted of questions about hospitality. The quiz was divided into five rounds – General Knowledge, Logoz, Imazer, Ads and Audio Visual. The questions were challenging, and kept the participants and the audience on their feet.
- Hotelier’s Got Talent: Hotelier’s Got Talent was the culminating event in the momentous experience that was WGSHA Quest 2017. The teams displayed their mastery in the performing arts, and set the mood with their dance moves and songs as sweet as the honey in the cakes they bake.
The two-day function came to an end with a prize-distribution ceremony where the winners of various events were felicitated. Culinary Academy of India (CAI), Hyderabad bagged the Runner-up trophy as Christ University, Bangalore emerged as the Overall Champions of the WGSHA Quest 2017.
In conclusion, this annual congregation of future hoteliers is certainly not one to miss. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmet cuisine connoisseur or someone who just eats because it’s “yum”, the WGSHA Quest promises a great exposure and an opportunity to understand the multifaceted industry that Hotel Management is.
Pujan Parikh and Ayush Agrawal for MTTN
Pictures by Paul Nandadeep & Paritosh Kullkarni