Friday, May 08, 2009

System Programmers Too Can Cook!

And darn pretty well! Yes, and not just regular ready-to-cook meals, but fancy entrées, yummy side dishes and finger-licking desserts!

Lemon Spoon Cheese Cake From Iron Chef Competition

That is exactly what the "The Iron Chef Competition" was all about. Slated as a morale boosting event, the idea was to drive to culinary school, split the team into 3-4 smaller groups, cook some food and then let it be judged while we enjoyed the purportedly tasty food we just cooked!

My whole understanding (as a skeptic) was : "Cook the food, let it be judged, and then what we will end up eating is something ordered on the restaurant menu. And all that we just cooked will find it's way in trash can (at the least, in the can marked 'compost'!)". And so I had planned to skip it and read some code instead. Well, tell you what, I was W R O N G!

When people were moving out for the event, senior teammates were checking every room to see who's holed up in there still assaulting their keyboards with terminals hooked on to some remote debugging sessions. I was one of them. On their insistence, I thought, let me go along, at least I'll meet other people. On the venue, after the rules were explained, each of the four teams were assigned a chef. But still organizers maintained that we will eat ONLY what we cook. I thought to myself: "Baahh... they are just saying that so that we take this cooking seriously and cut ourselves outta work". Soon the cooking started, few minutes into it and I realized two things:
  1. These chefs are real good! Even when I didn't understand more than 91% of the items and items they talked about! But they were very well adept at instructing how-to-cook. (They must be, I learned later they, run that place as a school to teach culinary skills!)
  2. We are indeed going to eat what we cook, and the food is NOT going to be as bad as I imagined!
Being a veggie, I ended up making Lemon Spoon Cheese Cake and chopping lots of veggies for and helping make veggie Spaghetti. Psst... I will post the details if I can successfully re-make the cake by myself!

Rajeev, switching roles From Iron Chef Competition

When the time for lunch came, about 2.5 hrs after we started cooking, it dawned upon me that everything that was cooked here today, is palatable! And the fact that some of these items we are going to devour are prepared by us, only improved the taste and doubled the pleasure! The only guilt, though, is that I ate too much of cheese cake consuming tooooooo much calories while I'm a little out of touch(wft?) with gym or any kind of rigorous physical activities (aka soccer. But after more than a year's break, I did play a little bit of volleyball this Sunday).

All in all, it was much much much more fun cooking with my directors, leads, boss mentors and peers than sitting in dark rooms with something flickering on the gigantic white screens! Or even heading off to go-carting, etc.

Me chopping & JR instructing somebody From Iron Chef Competition

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and so did everybody else, because everybody got a piece to do in making the luncheon! And there was at least one person who liked something or the other that was cooked. I'm happy my seniors holed me out of my room to join this event.

Me, Surendra(director) & Stone(mentor) From Iron Chef Competition

This much I have decided, someday, when I have enough time out of my work and other hobbies, I will definitely take up a small course to learn some culinary skills! Maybe, then, I will top it off with another hobby: Spoil my, friends' and neighbors' kids/grandkids by feeding them some outlandish dishes!" ha ha!

Have a look at the whole album and more beautifully made dishes:

Venue: Blue Ribbon Cooking and Culinary Center
Photo Credits: Ravikumar(Sony DSC-W120), Katie (Nikon D300)


Sagar Bhanagay said...

Damn nice activity! :-)

Indrani said...

cool man... I am sure this mite have been a whole lot of fun :)

the cheese cake atleast looks good :P (don't know about the taste though :P :D)

Sheetal Kamat said...

Wow.. the cheese cakes look delicious :) must be complete fun to do group cooking :)

Srinivas Iyengar said...

Well... Nice to see MS Employees try a hand at Cooking ;).