Advocating the use of culinary diplomacy to strengthen international relations, 18 chefs of Heads of State from across the globe recently came together for the Annual General Assembly of ‘Le Club des Chefs des Chefs’ (CCC) in the national Capital.
It is the group’s first meeting in India since its inception in 1977 in Paris by French chef, Gilles Bragard. Touted to be world’s most exclusive gastronomic society, the group aims to use food as a bridge between cultures and societies. “If politics divides people, a good table always gathers them. Chefs are great diplomats and good food helps in easing negotiations,” Bragard said at a press conference, hosted by The Imperial.
Bragard and other chefs of the club visited the Rashtrapati Bhawan kitchen, where they relished popular Indian street foods like golgappas and alootikkis, cooked up by Montu Saini, Executive Chef to the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee. They also tried their hands at making jalebis. “It is about exchange of culinary skills. I would like to connect it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme, where I am showcasing India’s culture to the rest of the world,” Saini said.
The visiting members including Cristeta Comerford, Chef to the President of the United States of America, Indo-Canadian Neil Dhawan, who is Chef to the Prime Minister of Canada and Mark Flanagan, Chef to the Queen of the United Kingdom among others, were received by President Mukherjee for high tea.
Upholding the importance of culinary diplomacy, Bragard said, “Every Indian restaurant abroad is sort of an embassy of the country and Indian food is really coming up in the global arena.”
Referring to the club as the “G20 summit of chefs”, he said the association seeks to promote the local cuisines of different nations while keeping the plate healthy.
“We believe that the best cuisine in the world is your mother’s cuisine. Since, food is very important and we see diseases coming from bad food, CCC is keen on promoting healthy food,” Bragard said.
After their stay in the Capital during which they will explore the famous spice market of ChandniChowk (Khari Baoli), the chefs will visit Agra to see the iconic Taj Mahal, followed by a trip to Jaipur, that will give them an opportunity to experience the local culture and food.
Chef Christian Garcia, Chef to Prince Albert II of Monaco, and President of CCC, said that the chefs were looking forward to becoming “ambassadors of Indian gastronomy” after their visit.
“It is great for us to discover the wonders of India. It is important for us to share our experience with each other. We will keep the memories of this trip close to our hearts,” Garcia said.
Saini, along with four other visiting chefs, will also cook for a charity dinner, the proceeds from which will be donated to the Kailash Satyarthi Children Foundation.