Ode To Abu

Saturday, 6 April 2013

F for Food Fads in Chennai

This blog post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This challenge involves writing a blog post on any topic/theme in the order of the alphabets from A-Z. The blog posts have to be written each day through the entire month of April, excluding Sundays.

My chosen theme is the city of Chennai, its happenings, events, and my memories and experiences connected with this place.
F is for Food Fads in the city. In less than one year, two such crazes have caught on. 

Baker Showcase

One is the Baker Showcase, conducted by the group called the Home Bakers Guild. My earlier posts in October of last year and February of this year have covered this complete sell-out of an event. I have also individually profiled the bakers who participated. The Baker Showcase has been a rage for many reasons - some fuelled by the fact that more and more Indian travelers have come to appreciate exotic desserts from different continents, which resulted in a renewed interest in baking; not to mention the cupcake craze that took over the world a couple of years ago. Decorated cakes are the new trend and fondant is the way to go. All these fabulous creations are on display and sale at the Baker Showcase every quarter. 

This is an open event, not ticketed for visitors, and a portion of the sales proceeds go to various charities. The initial Baker Showcases were free of charge even for the participating bakers. Everyone was taken by surprise at the public response. Every single baker was sold out in a matter of hours and left with a big smile, an empty table, and 100% profit!

May 2013 will be the official anniversary of this group. The Baker Showcase -  its flagship event - will obviously be celebrated with much more vigour, glory and of course, TONS of CAKE!

Beach Cookout

The other more recent fad among foodies is called BC. Not an acronym for slang or foul language! The full form stands for Beach Cookout. A bunch of foodies gather at the beach with grills, coals, skewers, beverages, munchies, even musical instruments! It starts off around 7 in the evening and goes on until almost midnight. This wonderful community event is free and purely volunteer-driven. The entire evening is filled with lots of camaraderie, fun and games, laughter and piles of food. They meet once a month on Saturdays, when everyone is in a mood to socialize, kick back after a long hard week at work (a long week hard at work would be a fallacy in India...just kidding ;)), and some who actually enjoy cooking in public and that too on a weekend! 

The group met over the Chennai Food Guide (CFG) forum. Primarily a space to exchange notes on the best places to eat out in the city and of course the ones to avoid. While that's how it started, of late people talk more about healthy cooking and post pictures of what they make in their kitchens, rather than fancy pics of exotic fare they indulge in outdoors. The Beach Cookout further expanded on this in order to make cooking fun and a community affair rather than one person slogging away in a hot kitchen to feed an army of people. At BCs, everyone gets to participate and try their hand at the grill. If they wish to, that is. No compulsions, and no rules, is how the BC game is played. And most importantly, no money is exchanged. People are welcome to bring anything they'd like to share, whether it is something they've made themselves, or bought. The main purpose is to meet, mix and bond over food and other common interests. And yes, maybe explore cooking and approach it with fun. All age groups participate, families with kids, couples, singles, retired folk (these are the ones full of life). The first Beach Cookout (called BC1) had barely 15 people come together to try out this interesting concept. BC4 saw over a 100 people congregating and creating quite some noise! :-)

While barbecue parties at the beach and at homes might be common in other countries and increasingly more so among friends and families in India, a BC is a mixed affair. A growing crowd of people and many who are complete strangers to each other, each BC sees a bunch of new faces. People come not just for the food, but to meet the ones they've been interacting with on a food forum. And of 'coz, to indulge in fun and frolic on a beach setting!

Both these new food fads, the Baker Showcase and the Beach Cookout, involve bringing people together. Connecting and networking over food at such unique events have evolved, and how! 

Chennaiites sure live in exciting times. :-)


  1. The 1stBC & 2nd BC were certainly interesting experiments - in terms of technology the lowest cost grill - a simple cement "bond" with a cheap wire mesh was used - just to demonstrate that grilling was not restricted to those with expensive Weber grills. Anyone could do it.. It also demonstrated peoples willingness to volunteer and take responsibility for their own actions- all in a completely non commercial volunteer driven format to bring people together and bond over food. 3BC expanded this to cover music and entertainment and more number of people..BC answers to Vox Populi - the voice of the People!

    1. Everything evolves, doesn't it...Vox Populi indeed. Thanks for all that info :)

  2. "...that too on a weekend." When else would you do it? Although there are cookouts in other countries, it's not as communal as your Chennai BCs. Families or friends tend to clump in groups. This is pretty interesting, really. Smells of Woodstock and teen spirit. Good going. You are promoting Chennai in more ways than one. Good going.

    1. Nobody here wants to cook on weekdays anymore, forget weekends!! Weekends are when we all head out to eat. Try out the latest bistros in town. Who on earth wants to slave over a hot stove in a kitchen when its party time? :) And thank you, Arrowhead, for reading and the kinds words...this city promotion is fun indeed, never thought I'd get this far even!

  3. Wow! I didnt know about them!

    thanks for sharing

    Keep smiling,

    1. Hi Lakshmi, these are the most happening foodie fads since months now. The Baker Showcase gets a lot of press, the last one had sponsors! The Beach Cookout happens within the CFG forum and they might invite their friends. Its growing at a super fast pace.


  4. Thank you so much... i didnt have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this.. thks a lot:-)

    Chennai Cakes


  5. Nice to read this blog and thanks for creating this informative blog...!Musical Instruments sale in chennai