Naga Chef: Taking Naga indigenous cuisine to new levels
KOHIMA, OCTOBER 10
In an attempt to promote Naga indigenous cuisine and to keep the age old delectable recipe alive, Synergy Group Enterprise (SGE) in collaboration with the state government will be launching the first ever cooking competition in Nagaland, ‘Naga Chef’ from October 26 at Kohima. Briefing media persons at Hotel Legacy, Kohima on Thursday, Kevilezo Kense of SGE said he objective of the competition is to promote the unique indigenous cuisine of the Nagaland and at the same time provide a platform for entrepreneurial Naga chefs to showcase the delectable range of Naga food to the world. He said event also envisions on improvising Naga cuisine and taking it to a higher level of appeal and a marketable quality of international palate, while maintaining originality.
Press secretary to the Chief Minister, Abu Metha, who was also present at the press conference, said although the concept of Naga Chef is still at its infancy, the competition is a step forward in the right direction in promoting Naga culture. “We talk about promoting our culture and food is one of the first aspects of a culture. Unfortunately, this aspect has been neglected in the past,” Metha said. He lamented that within the state itself, there are only a few restaurants that serve authentic Naga food. Underscoring the need for setting a new benchmark for Naga cuisine, he said the government is ready to support any venture towards promoting the food aspect of the Naga culture. The Naga Chef is a kickstart to the Hornbill Masterchef competition and the state government calls upon all sections of the society to come forward and support and partake in these events, he added.
SGE member Kevithsu Doze stated that the competition will bring out the best in the Naga chefs as they will be judged not only on their cooking skills but also their creativity and innovation, knowledge on Naga traditional cuisine and their capability to deliver “under pressure”. The selected participants will be the ambassadors of Naga cuisine, he said.
Another member of SGE, Susan said only indigenous ingredients and organic vegetables will be used in the competition. This is to provide a platform for local farmers to market their organically grown produce, she added. “Every item brought into the Naga Chef pantry table will have a local story behind it,” Susan said.
The organizers specified that the competition is for the ‘Naga inhabitants of Nagaland’. More than thirty applications were received till now and the organizers are expecting more before the registration closes on October 17. They also informed that there will be a screening of the applicants on October 19 where twenty will be selected to proceed to the official rounds starting October 26. The participants will undergo six grueling rounds wherein, four contestants will be eliminated in each round except for the group round, organizers said adding, there will be separate award for this exceptional round. A total prize money of Rs.8,00,000 has been earmarked for the competition where the winner will walk away with Rs.5,00,000 and the four finalists will be allotted individual stalls during the Hornbill Festival.
It may be mentioned here that the annual Hornbill Festival will highlight a food festival this year and the Hornbill Masterchef will be a mega competition, promoting Naga indigenous food.
Synergy Group Enterprise members have informed that the top ten contestants of Naga Chef will be given the opportunity to participate in the Hornbill Masterchef.