Foodie's Big Tent

It's being touted as the mother of all food events: nine chefs and nine courses will come together this Wednesday when, Food With Benefits, a new age NGO started by three enterprising Mumbaikars, presents a plated dinner cooked by some of the city's leading chefs in support of St. Jude's Child Care Centre — a home away from home for children who come to Mumbai to undergo medical treatment.

Alex Sanchez, Rahul Akerkar and Irfan Pabaney
Alex Sanchez, Rahul Akerkar and Irfan Pabaney

Donor cards for Rs 6,000 have been selling briskly, we're informed. What's more, the courses will recreate a travel experience by each chef. “Each course though brought to you from a different part of the world, will transport you to a place that has meaning to chef behind it,” says a spokesperson.

And in a wonderful display of camaraderie the participating chefs who often find themselves competing in their day jobs for Mumbai's palate and wallet are Alex Sanchez, of The Table, Conrad D'Souza, previously of Pali Village Café, Gresham Fernandes, of The St. Jude Project, Irfan Pabaney, of The Sassy Spoon and Rahul Akerkar formerly of Indigo & Indigo Deli amongst others. Proving that there's no such thing as too many chefs of course.

Mumbai Boys At Large
Both are quintessential Mumbai boys whose relocation to the Capital for work compulsions must be interfering with their passion for the city.

AD Singh and Milind Deora
AD Singh and Milind Deora

So no surprises that former Union Minister for IT Milind Deora's joy at finding a reminder of home sweet home resulted in him trilling happily in a recent tweet. “When in Delhi, lunch at @SbowInd, Khan Market is a must,” referring to AD Singh's SodaBottleOpenerWala — a paean to Mumbai's Irani Parsis.

But this cozy Mumbai club patronage did not pass unnoticed. “You come to Delhi to eat Mumbai food,” went one of the catty responses. Indeed.

More than a thousand words
“Yesterday was Michael Jackson's death anniversary and so it seems like the right time to share this photograph from my archive,” says photojournalist Chirodeep Chaudhuri, about this striking portrait of the iconic Wacko Jacko when he'd come to Mumbai in 1996 for a concert.

Michael Jackson on arrival at Mumbai airport in 1996. Pic courtesy/Chirodeep Chaudhari
Michael Jackson on arrival at Mumbai airport in 1996. Pic courtesy/Chirodeep Chaudhari

“It was shot at the Sahar International Airport. I had been camping outside along with a largish contingent of international media since the early morning hours. Some of the foreign media guys had come armed with little ladders to hoist themselves above the heads of the local photographers.

Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Chirodeep Chaudhuri

“All hell broke loose when MJ emerged, waving to the crowds. The pushing and shoving began and the bamboo barricade, which had forced us to maintain discipline till then, broke. My left hand was stuck in the crush of photographers.

For a second, I caught a glimpse of the man. I clicked greedily and furiously… not bothering about focusing. Just praying for one sharp frame at one time, in desperation, I remember raising my camera above the heads and clicking a few frames hoping for luck.” He says with a journalist's precision, building up to that epiphany of daily journalism -a perfect picture for the newspaper's front page.

“Later that afternoon, I sat nervously in the Sunday Observer office darkroom, as my roll was being developed. We quickly dried the negative against the heater. The door was shut. The red light came on. The negative went into the enlarger. The enlarger light came on. And Voila! I had got my picture! A near-perfect frame.” And for those unfamiliar with the routines of a daily newspaper that's how an iconic front-page picture gets made.

Rock and Roll Reunion
School reunions always bring on much laughter and nostalgic cheer, but none as heartfelt as when two Old Girls from Walsingham, one of Mumbai's elite schools for upper class young women celebrated it there own way in Goa recently.

Neelam Johar and Shireen Mody
Neelam Johar and Shireen Mody

Both women, Neelam Johar and Shireen Mody, schoolgirls in the Sixties had also been at the vanguard of Mumbai's rock and roll and hippy movement. Born in to well heel Mumbai clans (Neelam's father had been actor-writer IS Johar) they'd blazed a trail for themselves most likely to the consternation of school and other authorities which had taken them straight to Goa.

Today Johar resides on 2 acres of lush jungle land in Assagaon amidst ancient trees and lush gardens practicing Acupuncture and pottery and studying Buddhism, while Modi, a renowned artist, resides in Arpora in a beautiful home set on an acre with her daughter Saffron, also an artist. “They bought the tee-shirts on line from the school site,” says Neelam's son Jehan Johar Janux, a music curator for festivals and a DJ. Nice!

What's Cooking?
Things are certainly hotting up in the kitchen of this new coastal restaurant fronted by the high profile expat chef whose move from SoBo to Bandra was not without its share of controversy.

The man in question with a penchant for publicity has been overheard talking down his new landlords and that too to diners. “He's definitely talented,” says a foodie source, “but high strung and a bit of a diva. It doesn't help that his parting ways with the previous establishment didn't go well.”

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