New Delhi, June 22, 2016: True grit and determination saw Chef M.S. Raj Mohan churn out 1204 dishes in 48 hours to enter the India Book of Records.
The portico of the Poppy’s Hotel was filled with aroma of delectable dishes and a voice blared out from the speakers, “100 dishes in three hours, congrats chef…” Standing in front of the excessive heat was Chef M.S. Raj Mohan who etched his name in the record books for the longest solo cooking marathon.
“My dream of six years has come true today,” beams Raj Mohan, who entered into the India Book of Records with a whopping 1204 dishes cooked in 48 hours, one minute and three seconds.
“He applied to us for breaking the Guinness record of 40 hours held by Benjamin J. Perry of US. Initially he attempted for only 41 hours but surprisingly he had the stamina to surpass the time and finished at 48 hours,” says Vivek Raja, adjudicator, India Book of Records.
Schezwan veg soup, Bhuna ghost, Amritshree Machli, Crispy fried chicken, Palak paneer, Aloo mutter … dishes arrived on the adjudicator’s table one after the other. On an average Raj Mohan managed to churn out 26 dishes an hour.
He started the event with an egg omelette garnished with parsley at 7.11 am on December 19 and served pal payasam as the event came to a close on December 21 at 7.12 a.m.
“Omelette was the first dish I cooked when I started experimenting my cooking skills as a child,” smiles Raj Mohan, Head, Department of Hotel Management, Mary Matha College, Periyakulam. Though he cooked variety of dishes for the audience he ate only kanji and drank fresh fruit juices to give him enough energy to withstand the heat. “We bought five kg of fresh fruits for his consumption,” says Chef G.M. Yogeswaran, who headed the support staff team.
Around 20 litres of oil, 200 kg of vegetables, 30 kg of chicken, 7 kg of fish and 5 kg of meat was used to produce 307 kg of food in all. The food was distributed to the children of special schools with the help of the Palakarangal NGO.
“We wanted to encourage such talents. We knew it was a mammoth effort and wanted to be part of it,” says Jaisinh Vaerkar, partner, Thillai’s Masala, who provided all the masalas for the event. Celebrity chef K. Damodaran gave some tips and encouraged Raj Mohan.
According to the guidelines, while the contestant could use ingredients that had been previously marinated or chopped, he had to have at least two dishes cooking at any given time. But Raj Mohan had five at a time. Also, the guidelines made it mandatory to cook one dish in one stove at a time. “This rule is because Guinness is concerned with the number of hours and not the recipes. But it is tough for the competitor as I could cook only one vada and one dosa at a time. It consumes a lot of time,” says Raj Mohan.
He was allowed five minutes break after each hour of cooking. Raj Mohan accumulated the minutes and took 20-minute break every four hours. “He was energetic and full of life when he started. He even forgot to go for his first break and continued for five hours and then the adjudicator reminded him and forced him to take a break. Later in the day he was so tired that during the break when the physiotherapist asked him to close his eyes, he slept off,” says B. Senthamizh Arasu, event coordinator.
Originally, he planned for a gigantic 50 kg parotta but felt it was not feasible and instead decided to attempt the record for longest solo cooking. “My aim was to complete 2,000 recipes but I could not. All the dishes were prepared with locally available ingredients as the idea was to promote the South Indian and Indian cuisine through this event,” says Raj Mohan.
As he cooked, the dishes were distributed to the eagerly waiting audience for tasting. A team of 35 people worked day and night to help him achieve the feat and each one of them gave their heart and soul to this attempt. A log book was maintained to record the start and end time of each dish and photographs of the dishes were also taken. The team is planning to send all the documents to Guinness World Records for ratification.