Kentish chefs gathered at the Ramada, Dover on Monday February 22, for a day of Eastern delight as Executive Chef Satish Nalli welcomed his peers to the latest meeting of The Chefs’ Forum.

Students from East Kent College and Hit Training arrived first thing in the morning to work with Satish in the kitchen – Their mission: to create some amazing Indian canapés for the 50 culinary experts who were to arrive at midday.

Students with canapesThis was a fantastic opportunity for the learners to experiment with authentic Indian spice and master new cooking techniques using traditional Indian equipment such as the tandoor oven.

The event began with a canapé reception and the chance for the visiting chefs and suppliers to network.

Satish said: ““In the industry we are suffering from a shortfall in authentic Indian chefs and I hope that today has inspired some of these young people to explore Indian cuisine further.

I am extremely impressed by the students. The passion and talent that they showed was brilliant, and with young people like this coming into the industry I am confident that I can source young chefs from these colleges – They have shown a real flare for Indian cuisine.  I would welcome each and every one back for a day in the kitchen with me.”

Satish DemoFollowing the reception Satish gave an introduction to authentic Indian spices.  He then demonstrated White (white tomato) Chicken Tikka Masala with Coriander Risotto.

India’s national fruit, the mango was then turned into an utterly delicious drink in Satish’s Masterclass of Mango Lassi-making.  The main purpose of mango lassi is to cool one’s tongue after indulging in spice.  However, this lovely dessert masquerading as a drink means it’s quite acceptable to sip one whilst waiting for food to arrive then demolish another immediately afterwards, even as you wave away suggestions of pudding!

Satish said: “In India when the heat is extremely intense, many opt to drink a lassi instead of eating a meal to keep cool and nourished!”

Students then went head to head in a competition to showcase their newly acquired samosa-making skills, with Tom Ralph from East Kent College and Dorinel Cirneci (Hit Training learner at The Great House) being crowned joint winners and each receiving a Hari Ghotra Curry Kit and a day in the kitchen with Satish.

Tom said: “The Chefs’ Forum events are a really good for us as students.  We are only too happy to put ourselves forward to take part as we know we will secure work experience and trail shifts with employers on the back of them.  Today’s event gave us the chance to learn about Indian food from an authentic Indian chef.  We were truly amazed to see his photos of ice, butter and fruit sculptures – I would love to learn how to do this!”

The art of carving fruit and vegetables originated during the period Sukhothay (now North of central Thailand) in the 14th century.  The women of the royal house developed and perfected this art in honour of their monarchs.  This art was passed from generation to generation and has now spread across the globe via India to Kent!

Fruit carvingSatish took the floor once more to demonstrate the intricate art of fruit carving – Guests were amazed at his talent.

Satish said: “In India, every table has a centre piece.  I really enjoy carving fruit as it makes any buffet table look special.  Here at the Ramada, I often create ice sculptures for weddings – They add a bit if star dust to an already special day.”

Gusts were then invited to try their hand at fruit carving.

Lorraine winner of Audi ExperienceLevel 3 mature student, Lorraine Smith from East Kent College displayed exceptional talent in carving a rose from a watermelon. Satish was so impressed with Lorraine’s efforts, that he invited her back for an ice-sculpting master class.  In addition, Chefs’ Forum Sponsor East Kent Audi awarded Lorraine an Audi Driving experience to reward her excellent performance!

Founder of The Chefs’ Forum Catherine Farinha said: “This has been a ground-breaking and compelling day.  Its talented chefs like Satish who keep our events current and fresh.  The chefs have learnt so much today and we hope they will now be inspired to use elements of fine Indian cuisine in their menus.

“It is so important to us to have the support of chefs of his calibre, and of course, all the wonderful

Sponsors, who provide the ingredients and equipment for the demonstrations.

“It is great to see so many familiar faces and even chefs traveling here from London and it makes me believe that we must be doing something right.

“We want to be able to keep giving the young talent the opportunity to go into diverse kitchens and work

Front of house so that we can secure the successful future of the hospitality industry and enable chefs like Satish to train home-grown talent in his kitchens.”

Photography by Manu Palomeque –