The first ever Senior Best Chef NZ competition has ended with Auckland’s Champa Ben scooping the top prize.
Champa Ben shrugged off challenges from five other finalists; Mohammad Tauqir Khan, Gulshan Chaddha, Nashattar Kaur, Pratima Nand and Prakash Satum at the competition finale held at NZMA college kitchen in Mount Wellington.
“I’m never going to say I can't do it,” said Champa Ben. She won three nights’ accommodation at Quadrant Hotel in Auckland and a $250 worth voucher, sponsored by Anjini Lata of Barfoot & Thompson.
Pratima Nand, who finished first runner-up, won a return ticket to Sydney sponsored by Travel 2000.
Hamilton-based Nashattar Kaur came third. She was feeling on top of the world.
Organised by Life International Charitable Trust, the competition was aimed at 55 years and over audience.
The Trust team; Manisha Anand, Hem Khanna, Madhu Neelam, Rajni Sharma, Vency Gonsalves, Bharat Panchal, Jatin and led by founder Janesh Kharbanda; had a hectic two months.
Anand says the competition was held at NZMA’s Mt. Wellington campus.
“It came with the kind and generous support of the NZMA campus manager Jasbir Kaur; a big credit goes to her for the success of the show.”
She says Mr Kharbanda has always had a soft spot for the elderly.
“They left their country of birth, their fellow-men, family and friends behind and have not been able to forge new relationships here due to their age, language and cultural barriers. They feel lonely and isolated as even at home; rest of the family members were too busy in their day-to-day activities.
“So to bring them out of their depressing and boring life and to add some spice to it, he decided to hold a cooking competition for our senior citizens only.”
The participants cooked a dish of their choice in the well equipped kitchen of NZMA college.
Manisha Anand says these secret recipes which must have been handed down to them by their own parents or grandparents were revealed for the benefit of the whole world.
“This was all done to give our seniors a sense of pride and achievement and also motivate others.”
The judges included Jasbir Kaur, campus manager, NZMA, Grant Kitchen, salon manager at NZ Chef Association, Ajay Zalte Executive Chef from Waipuna Hotel, Kelda Skelton, chef, Langham Hotel, Rama Alwar, chef, who used to work for Skycity n now with Manurewa Golf Course. Chef Adrian- Executive Chef Crown Plaza, Chef Rakesh Chandra, Sudima Hotel, Chef Arun Pillai from Pullman Hotel, Chef Jinu from Heritage Hotel and Venessa Baxter, Kitchens without Boundaries.
Others who were involved in the judging panel included Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff, Natinal MP Paramjeet Parmar, sponsor Sunny Kaushal and Murray Thom (author of NZ Cook Book) and Mandeep Kaur (NZ Police).
Anand thanked everyone involved with judging.
She says the Senior Best Chef NZ show will soon be telecast nationwide by APNA TV (Freeview channel-36) hosted by the beautiful and talented Mona Ragtah and Mr Kharbanda.
“International Charitable Trust has done this show without any government funding and brings this show into this level only with the support of team and sponsors.
“We have decided to do next season as well with more energy and seeking support from the Government and other organisations.”