Dipta Joshi (Mumbai)
The youngest chef to win four silver medals in the ‘pastry and culinary artistry’ individual categories at the world’s oldest and toughest Culinary Olympics 2020, staged in Stuttgart (Germany) last February, Chennai-based Yeshwanth Kumar Umasankar (17) has been awarded an entry into the India Book of Records.
Conceived by a group of German master chefs way back in 1896 to promote German cuisine worldwide, the International Exhibition of Culinary Art, aka the Culinary Olympics, is a quadrennial five-day competition for professional chef teams worldwide. The latest (2020) competition which attracted 100,000 visitors, 2,000 participants from 60 countries competed in 16 skill categories, most of them team events.
“Representing India and winning medals at this prestigious competition was a proud moment for me. My only regret is that for lack of a national team, I had to compete in individual categories,” recalls Yeshwanth, who opted out of regular school while a class IX student, and enrolled in the National Institute of Open Schooling to enable participation in the February competition, which would have otherwise clashed with his class X board exam.
The elder of two children of homemaker Jayanti, and master chef Umasankar Dhanapal, Yeshwant believes his culinary skills are hereditary. “I picked up the nuances of culinary art from my father who is a professional master chef. He is my role model, coach and inspiration,” says Yeshwanth who signed up for master chef classes in 2015 at the Culinary Academy of India, Hyderabad attending daily classes in his summer and winter holidays. Subsequently, he travelled with his father to China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Czech Republic to train with experts in the art of sugar, chocolate and ice sculptures.
After averaging a commendable 80 percent in the NIOS class X exam of October 2019, Yeshwanth is preparing to write his class XII school-leaving exams this year. “After I complete Plus Two, my mission is to showcase India’s diverse culinary art and cuisine to the world. I am also looking forward to starting a two-year apprenticeship programme offered by Sri Lanka’s celebrity chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe. My ultimate dream is to establish a world-class culinary art studio,” says this young food artist, certain to go places with his culinary flair.
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