Food Diplomacy on the Cards

British,Australian Master Chefs To Bring Culinary Culture Along

Reshmi R Dasgupta TNN

New Delhi: The wily French diplomat Talleyrand is said to have told Napoleon,Give me a good chef and I shall give you good treaties. Two centuries on,with food diplomacy becoming the new masala to spice up international relations,it comes as no surprise that Britain and Australia will bring some of their top culinary names to India in September and October.

With millions of Indians visiting Britain or settled there,it is not surprising that two prominent Brit-Indians feature among the six culinary luminaries coming to India in mid-September.

Under the aegis of the charity Creative Services Support Group,Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia as well as TV chef and cookbook writer Anjum Anand will be accompanied by Frances Atkins,Marcello Tully (also Michelin-starred ),Laurie Gear (a rising Michelin star) and British-born Australian chef Ian Curley.Though uranium supplies may be top-of-the-mind for policy watchers when Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard comes to India in mid-October,others may be more interested in the arrival of three men who have done much to reverse the soured image of that nation in India: the hosts of Masterchef Australia.Chefs Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris,and food critic Matt Preston will come as a part of a yet-to-be-announced Australian cultural extravaganza around that time.
There was,however,no official confirmation from the Australian high commission.

The chefs from Britain will not only be participating in a summit and cooking up a ninecourse charity dinner in Delhi priced at Rs 25,000 per couple,they will also tour schools.Anand is also expected to release her newest book in India at that time.That their tour will culminate with a gala event to celebrate British food at the high commissioners residence underlines the official interest in gastro-diplomacy.Promoting the best of British cuisine is one of the most enjoyable parts of my work, says British high commissioner Sir James Bevan.

While the itenerary of the Masterchef hosts is not known,cooking demonstrations in Delhi and Mumbai and charity dinners in both metros are likely to figure in the programme. Given that each series of their hugely successful show features at least one Indian-origin contestant (Australia has 4 lakh Indians),there are indications the three are keen to shoot at least one episode in India.

Though he would not confirm the Masterchef tour,Australian deputy high commissioner Lachlan Strahan said,Taking your food culture to another country is a wonderful way of expressing things about the character of your own country.Public diplomacy is fundamentally about engagement and sharing.Food,therefore,is an excellent bridge between Australia and India,moving beyond the old and wellknown links between the two countries such as cricket.