Last year, in the Rupchanda-The Daily Star Super Chef 2014, Dhaka proved to be a sort of game-changer. With the highest number of registered participants, it was evident that the Super Chef fever reached its zenith in Dhaka. This year, the capital city did not disappoint either. Over 800 people braved the strikes to congregate in the city’s Gulshan Shooting Club. Was Dhaka going to be the hardest fought auditions round? If numbers were any hint, the answer to that question was going to be a resounding yes. Although the time for the auditions was stated as 8am, participants began coming to the venue from almost 6 in the morning. Two hours later, the participants’ line stretched all across the road from Gulshan Shooting Club. The chatter, even in the main road, was near deafening. Excitement and enthusiasm were present in the equal measures. The registration began almost as soon as the participants arrived. Initially, the numbers were overwhelming for the activation team from Market Access Providers Limited. Soon, officers from Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited also set up registration booths to hasten the process and normalcy began returning to a chaotic start. Once the participants were registered, over 800 of them, the first part of the audition rounds began. A questionnaire was given to all the participants, containing 50 questions. These questions were, as in previous audition rounds, designed to check the culinary knowledge of each of the participants. The questions were both MCQs and open-ended. Although a strict “No cheating” rule was instituted, many tried their best to discreetly violate the rules. A husband-wife combination, both who had registered, were at first seen trying to help each other but soon the wife began to hide her answers. The husband could not hide his disappointment and amidst all the tension, their situation provided some much needed comedic relief. Finally, at the end of the written test part of the auditions, 75 individuals were selected to go for the cook-off. The participants were divided into groups and then provided with Tk. 500. This amount would now be used by the participants to shop for ingredients that they would need for the cook-off. During the cook-off, the participants would be given 30 minutes time to cook a dish from the ingredients they bought using the allotted money. Since it was a freestyle event, a lot of dishes were seen. Judges Shaheda Yesmin, culinary expert and proprietor of Jewel’s Kitchen and Syed Tazammul (Tareq) head chef of Watercress restaurant were seen asking the participants questions as they went about their preparation. Last year’s Super Chef’s second and third runner-ups were also additional judges for the event and they too were seen walking about and taking down notes about the participants. Soon, the participants began taking their food to the judges for tasting. The judges had a hard time choosing among the 75 dishes. Chef Tareq and Shaheda Yesmin both took time to carefully mark each of the dishes presented before them. Participants from last year’s competition, who thought they were better prepared this year, were in for a rude awakening. In one year’s time the popularity of the competition had grown immensely and hence the competition was much harder. After quite some time, the judges settled on 35 participants who would now go on to the central round of the competition. Farhanan Yeasmin and Farzana Yeasmin, sisters, both made it through the Dhaka auditions. “I participated last year and since I did not win then, I used that as a learning experience and came back much better prepared than before.” Zebunessa, one of the best participants in Dhaka, said that although she had not participated in the year before, she knew what the program was about and was here to do her very best. Overall, Dhaka proved once again to be rich in culinary gems. With the end of the Dhaka auditions, the audition rounds themselves had ended. Now, the final rounds were about to begin. Soon, the real fight will begin. Keep your eyes on NTV for the latest season of the Rupchanda-The Daily Star Super Chef 2015 and catch all the drama, excitement and more kinds of food than you knew existed.
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