-B Swaminathan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Started with a small forum with just 7 chefs, South India Chef’s Association (SICA) is now one of the strongest forums with close to Two Thousand Chefs across the Southern part of India. The association is planning to come up with a mega event which is conducted once in two years aimed at giving a global exposure for Chefs working in South India. Sheetharam Prasaad N, Gen. Secretary of the association spoke to ‘Chef Bharath.com’ on the trends in South India, activities of the association and way forward.
“Today a ‘master’ in the tea shop earns a minimum of Thousand Rupees every day while a ‘parotta master’ can earn the same amount even in a road-side shop. If the demand is such that in an unorganized sector, then imagine the demand in the organized sector. However, why many young chefs say they are not finding the right opportunities?”, Sheetharam questions. SICA is deeply concerned about the lack of exposure of the young chefs in the global arena. According to him, Chefs from a small nation like Sri Lanka have better global exposure than their Indian counterparts.
SICA aims to bring a change in the mindset of the people. “Many say smart-work is needed for professionals. However, in my personal opinion, I differ from that. According to me, smart work can be replaced or bettered at any time. However, there is no alternative or replacement for hard work. The hardworking part is missing today in many of the young professionals. “, Sheetharam added further comparing two decades before where Chefs were paid ‘peanuts’ while the pay standards had increased to a great extent for the chefs.
He also raised concerns about the lack of students from the institutes entering the kitchen. “For chefs, the basic needs like, food, clothing, and shelter are taken care of by the employer and have avenues to save money. I also do not subscribe to the views where student chefs were ill-treated in the kitchen during internships. With the wide range of opportunities across, no employer is ready to lose anyone with the right skill”, he said. Despite having skills, I notice many Chefs end their careers in a small circle. “SICA, through various culinary competitions, activities, networking events, would try to bring out the best skills hidden in the deep pockets of South India. We will enhance not just the culinary skills, but would like to groom them overall with better communications, networking, management, marketing and so on”, the Secretary said. On a concluding note, as an advisor to the growing chefs, Sheetharam says a Chef gets outdated the day he or she stops learning.
SICA, which aims to be an umbrella body that could mentor the next generation chefs has never failed to take efforts to create an impact among the community and society. Helping students from economically backward students, creating awareness on cleanliness directly and through other bodies including FSSAI.
The leadership of SICA has Dr. P Soundararajan (President-Mentor), Jugesh Arora (Honorory President), Dr. K. Damodaran (President), Bennet (VP- Tamil Nadu), Kasi Viswanathan (VP-Karnataka), Ramu Butler (VP-Kerala), Sudhakar N Rao (VP-Telangana), M Trilogachander (VP-Andhra Pradesh), Umashankar Dhanapal (Joint-Secretary), AK Mohanakrishnan (Treasurer), V Vijayakumar (Joint-Treasurer) and the advisory council has Elango Rajendran (Advisory Council).
The executive council houses names like Baranidharan. P, Litwin Shanjit. A, Selladurai. P, Padmanabhan Anand, Rohit Tokhi, Himanshu Shekhar Sahoo, Mohamed Haneef, Muruganandam. G, Sekar.P. SICA also has a skill development committee which includes Mark Crocker, Jesu Santiagu Lambert, Balaji N, Saravanan Thangavel, Nithyanandan. M, Rumana Jaseel and the event forum have the following members- Deva Kumar. R, Saravanan. R, Suresh Kanna, Joseph Paul, Prem Kumar. M, Yuva Durga Prasath. G, Rajkumar. M, Sashi Jacob, and Lalitha Sri.
M S Raj Mohan and N Kannan are the Chief Co-ordinators for the Junior forum while the latter holds additional responsibility of Election officer. R Parimala is the Chief-Coordinator for the Women forum.