Kochi: Veteran British chef Alan Palmer is in Kochi and he is relishing the tastes of the southern state as the chief judge of the cooking competitions organised as part of the HotelTech Kerala Expo.
Having travelled across the world, teaching cookery and judging culinary challenges, Palmer says it’s difficult for him to choose one particular favourite dish. He says he has tasted some very many nice dishes wherever he goes. However, asked about what he liked in Kerala during his judging assignment, he named the humble fish curry with raw mango. He said he likes prawns or fish with mango.
Palmer, the project director at Hotel Asia Exhibition & International Culinary Challenge, said cooking competitions are important because they help the participating chefs learn and improve their standards. “The judging criteria of a cooking competition are not only for the jury. The most important aspect of the criteria is that they help the participating chefs improve their knowledge and skills. The competitions ultimately improve the career prospects of a chef,” he said.
Citing the international judging criteria for cooking competitions, he stressed on the importance of presenting a dish in an eye appealing manner. Chefs Rasheed and George K George are the members of the jury at HotelTech Kerala Expo.
This is Palmer’s second visit to Kerala as a cooking jury. The first visit was in 2008 when he was invited to judge similar events in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Munnar. During the past four months, he was in Malaysia, Korea, The Philippines, Maldives and Thailand donning the judge’s cap. He said he has observed a dip in participants in all competitions as the hospitality industry is yet to fully overcome the pandemic induced slowdown. He, however, exuded confidence that the contests will see more participation next year.
Born in England, Palmer has worked in Switzerland, Kenya and Singapore. He is settled in Sri Lanka for the past 21 years. Asked about the situation in Lanka which witnessed a massive economic and political downfall recently, Palmer said tourism has been picking up in the island nation slowly of late.
HotelTech Kerala Expo
The 11th edition of the annual HotelTech Kerala Expo that lines up products and services suitable for hotels and resorts in the hospitality sector in the state began at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. The Export Promotion Council South Zone chairman K R Pillai, Association of Approved and Classified Hotels of Kerala (AACHK) president K J Joseph, K-BIP CEO Sooraj S Nair, Abad Group of Hotels MD Riyaz Mohammed and celebrity chef Alan Palmer jointly inaugurated the expo.
Over 65 exhibitors are showcasing their food products and ingredients needed for the hospitality sector, hotel appliances, linen and furnishing, hotelware, commercial kitchen appliances, cleaning products and devices at the HotelTech Expo.
Parallel to the expo, contests are being held on the first two days. The events include Kerala Culinary Challenge (KCC) and the Housekeepers Challenge (HKC). On Wednesday, contests were held in Hot Cooking Fish, Bread and Pastry Display, Hot Cooking Meat, Hot Cooking Chicken, Kerala Specialties, Rice Dish (Veg) sections. Hotel and resort chefs from different parts of the state are vying with each other in these competitions. On Thursday, contests were held in Dress the Cake, Creative Dessert (Freestyle), Creative Salads and Mocktail sections.
Joseph Kuriakose, Director of Cruz Expos, which organizes the event, said that after the two online editions of the event for the past two years due to COVID-19, this year’s offline event was getting tremendous response.