After the super successful Season 1 of the Impossible Chefs at The Culinary Lounge, nestled in the peaceful environs of Jubilee Hills last year, we got a whiff of something special cooking this year too. And we reached out to Sushma Thota, partner at The Culinary Lounge, who is also well-known for her innovative forays into the world of art.
Sushma has spent the last 7 years working with children. Whether as a counsellor, teacher and mentor in NGOs or as a partner at The Culinary Lounge, Sushma strives to inculcate values and bring about change to the lives of children. Through food and other related culinary events, Sushma works closely with children helping them understand and enjoy the culinary processes.
Echoing the philosophy on which The Culinary Lounge stands, Sushma says, “Food is memory. It connects you with different people and situations. Everyone feels a connection with food. There is art in the way we cook and serve our food. It’s a wonderful way to connect and we create lifelong memories this way.”
KE: So, what memories are going to be created at the Impossible Chefs 2019 – Season 2?
Sushma: It’s ‘Serious Fun’! Apart from introducing the kids to ingredients and teaching recipes with hands-on cooking at The Culinary Lounge , there is also focus on field trips for a real time experience and better exposure. The activities wil make the children learn about the history, culture and social aspects of the place the food comes from, on food and art form at an art gallery and design thinking to unleash the inner innovator for problem solving. While getting involved in hands-on cooking, kids know what’s going into their food and they tend to make healthier choices.
Cooking as a medium for team bonding, human interaction aspects like leadership and communication, optimization and futuristic thinking are some concepts we instil in the child through the cooking we teach at TCL.
KE: Planning so much in a camp must be exhausting – how are you managing it all?
Sushma: Rather than doing it all on our own, we decied we should play to our strength, and signed up 15 like-minded partners , who want to make a difference in the kids’ value & learning. These partnerships have created a brilliant experience for the kids at Impossible Chefs this Summer.
Each of our partners is offering a program exclusively curated for the kids. There bring in many touch points, each different from the last! Our five star and premium restaurant partners bring a lot of value add through the field trips. Not only showing the kitchens, but letting the kids learn more of the cuisine or how a hotel/restaurant functions everydayand manages hundreds of happy people . This is of great opportunity for kids who would want to take this as a career choice.
And then we have activity partners, who will help kids to learn of the stories behind the cuisine, explore in the culture of the theme/land, learn of artists and weave in art and divergent thinking to solve a problem. With so many partners , the kids certainly will learn a lot – through food, stories, innovation and art.
KE: Sounds so very interesting! How are the camps structured then?
Sushma: Seven lands will be discovered across seven weeks of our program through ‘The Culinary Express’ which carries food from the different lands each week. The set up being done by an art director who has worked in Disneyland earlier, and we are very excited about the Express!
Each week begins with ice breaking sessions to foster friendships, followed by receiving a welcome kit and introduction to cuisine’s theme specific ingredients, followed by making a shopping list and exploring the marketplace to pick the fresh produce and hunt for the sauces and seasonings.
Apart from the various levels of hands-on cooking experiences at The Culinary Lounge, they learn and discover the world of cooking through the field trips to markets, five star hotels, premium restaurants, food factories and more. The children also get an opportunity to explore a professional kitchen set up and meet professional chefs, interact with them and get a demo for a wider outlook.
For a holistic experience, kids are educated through story telling. History behind the cuisine, the socio-cultural setup of the place, the wars waged over the years and the foreign invasions – all these contribute to the journey of the cuisine to where it is now.
Alongside, there will be cultural immersions of the traditional dance and fitness forms entwined in the week’s theme. There is also a focus on appreciation of the culinary artists and families who are trying to keep alive the traditional cooking methods in the form of screening of a documentary. Art is intertwined with food as well, so the children will get to explore that angle, finally culminating into a design activity where creative writing and problem solving skills is encouraged
KE: You also mention field trips – what’s the idea behind them?
Sushma: Through the field trips to five star hotels and premium restaurants, the kids get a real time culinary experience. Their outlook is improved from a home kitchen to TCL kitchen to a Prefoessional kitsch set-up. They also get to do hands-on or see a demo while interacting with Professional chefs. The chef tells them stories of a dish and educates them on how a large scale food industry works. This can also help kids who are looking at Chef as a career choice. Apart from all this, the kids get to have lunch at the field trip and taste their specials.
And we also have field trips to Markets. Kids get to explore the ingredients and learn to optimise money and food – they gain insgights and value for both. We have field trips to art gallery and design thinking labs as well.
KE: What has been the response to the summer camps? This year as well as the last year?
Sushma: The parents have been very supportive of our journey. Last year we did not have any field partners. This year when we approached partners, the response has been great. It is overwhelming to realise that we all shared similar interests in helping children learn through different mediums – food / art / innovation and focus on values through food. Many of our partners were very excited and have come up with exclusive programs for the kids.
KE: And there seems to be a grand graduation ceremony for the li’l chefs – what can we look forward to there?
Sushma: Yes, and we are so excited already! On June 1st, at a premium property, Tiny Chefs, with their parents from all 7 batches come together for grand ceremony to celebrate their newly acquired culinary skills. We will have the grand launch of the Children’s cookbook, covering 75 recipes curated by 10 chefs across the city, on 4 cuisines and 3 broad themes. All the kids will be given this book. Kids will also receive a Impossible chef certificate and goodies from our partners. And we have a few more surprises up our sleeve.
And we must say, we can’t wait for these surprises! If this camp excites you as much as it does us, you must sign up right away. Get an exclusive discount of 30% – just use Discount Coupon Code ‘TCL30’
To know more and to sign up, click here – https://kidengage.com/listing/the-culinary-lounge