The year started with a surprise birthday party thrown well a week ahead of my birthday. I guess this was my first surprise birthday party ever and it was such a fun thing to happen. I often gloat over my very keen and sharp sixth sense and what not, but yes, this one took me completely by surprise.
If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know how big a fan I've been of Masterchef Australia (well, who isn't?!). When I got to know Kate Bracks (the winner of season 3) was going to be in Bangalore, and I would get to meet her one on one, I was obviously over the moon. In fact, the interview with her that I wrote for Mint and later published on my blog is the most popular post of 2013.
Check out the top 5 posts on Saffron Trail at the end of the post
2013 was the year of two big family weddings. My cousin got married in March in Mysore. At her wedding, the husband got friendly with the head caterer who would make sure we were the first to taste any food that came out of the kitchen. A few meals, tiffins, ghee dripping sweets later, I was starting to regret the friendship with the caterer. Everything was so good, that I'm pretty darn sure I put on a few kilos in those 3 days. And that wasn't a very good thing to happen, because I had to fit into the blouses and look good in the pics of my sister's wedding in May. Chennai wedding and peak summer, one might think our appetites wouldn't want to be awakened. But we were proven wrong once again. The caterers prepared some of the most delectable traditional tambrahm food. As a result I had to get back to the gym with a vengeance to atone for the multiple banana leaf meals and tiffins that were consumed over these couple of days.
September onwards, Saturdays turned extremely busy as I started Saffron Trail Kitchen. My fond dream of teaching healthy cooking and baking finally grew wings and took off in Aug/Sep this year. All thanks to my neighbour and friend, who pushed me to take a couple of classes for a bunch of neighbours and herself, before she left for the US. It made me realise how much I enjoyed this and the kind of satisfaction and high it gave me after a class, not to mention bone aching tiredness was quite something. But the former always made up for the latter. As someone who is not used to talking so much, I'm still learning how to talk for 3-4 hours at a stretch while cooking / directing/baking simultaneously. I even picked the courage to conduct classes at two unfamiliar locations - one in Chennai at Ashvita Bistro and the other at a friend's place. So much of a learning experience this was! I've conducted 13 workshops in a span of 4 months and that makes me proud. This has set the tone for 2014 where I'll be doing a lot more culinary training and workshops.
In November, we started shooting for my Youtube channel that you'll see launching in 2014. This is for all of you, my readers and those who'd love to see me cook and learn from me, but cannot attend my workshops. From simple to (a little) complex, healthy to decadent, traditional Tambrahm to modern, I hope to cover a little bit of everything. I wish to have your support and encouragement in this venture. Of course I am nervous about putting myself in video, out there in the public domain, but I have a great team behind me who are keeping my confidence levels propped up higher than they would be left alone to myself.
It is a delight to close the year on a high, hoping that the same go-get-them spirit will continue into the new year and December pulled out all the stops for me. I conducted an off site Zesty Salads class, an Xmas special baking class and then on a whim (again prodded by a dear friend-gosh, this is getting repetitive), I took part in the Godrej Nature's Basket 'Celebrate Australia' contest and ended up being the winner from Bangalore. The prize is a trip to Australia - which includes a meal at one of my favourite Masterchef Australia people - Gary Mehigan. I haven't heard back on the details about this win, but fingers crossed I will be starting 2014 with a trip to the gorgeous AUSTRALIAAAA!
December also had me shooting with a wonderfully talented and yet equally humble chef, Vikas Khanna for a food channel and series, that I shall announce shortly. I went into this hardly knowing much about him and coming back awed by his gentle personality and knowledge. Although, last year, I did a couple of episodes for Twist of Taste (Fox Traveller) with Chef Vineet Bhatia and a street food walk with Saransh Goila (Food Food), this studio, lights, action routine and actually cooking on the show with Chef Vikas Khanna was a memorable experience.
2014 - this year I pray sees me getting down to working on my first cookbook in earnest, something I have been dreaming, writing and again putting on the back burner for over 6 years. I'm praying that I just pick up this project and run with it and that publishers will do the same. While that happens, I have my youtube channel to look forward to. I've hardly traveled anywhere in 2013, so I hope the coming year rectifies that. I also look forward to nurturing my culinary workshops further in 2014. Meeting more inspiring chefs, doing pop-up cafes, having my own cooking show, there are a plenty of food dreams to pursue and I hope I have a fair bit to write about when 2014 ends.
I leave you with my most popular posts of 2013:
- My interview with Kate Bracks
- Recipe for basic whole wheat bread
- Recipe for foxtail millet salad
- Recipe for easy chocolate cake
- Recipe for Mango Moar Kozhambu