Transcendental Cooking Contest
BY: SUN STAFF
Feb 11, VANCOUVER, CANADA (SUN) Lord Nityananda's Appearance Day and Transcendental Cooking Contest.
On the auspicious occasion of Lord Nityananda's Appearance Day, the celebration at ISKCON Vancouver included a favorite annual event - the Transcendental Cooking Contest. This event has going on at the Vancouver temple since the mid-1970's, and is greatly enjoyed by all the devotees.
Many devotees in the community cook for the event, using their favorite recipes and 'secret formulas'. Two long tables were placed before Sri Sri Radha Madana-Mohan, and throughout the class and arotik, armloads of containers full of bhoga preparations were placed before the Deities.
Many other devotees volunteered as judges, contributing $25 to the fund-raising event. In exchange, they are handed a clipboard to help them keep track as they taste and judge each preparation. A dizzying array of prasadam dishes are placed before each of the judges, who sit in an area reserved for them.
Preparations were submitted to the contest in various categories including Large Preps, Subjis, Savouries, Sweets, Rice, Dhals & Soups, Condiments, Breads, Drinks, Youth, and Non-Vedic (Italian, Chinese, etc.)
Winners in each category are selected by the panel of judges, and the winners receive a special certificate recognizing them as an expert in culinary skills. The overall winner of the contest also receives the honor of having their name engraved on Lord Nityananda's Transcendental Nectar Cup. This beautiful trophy became part of the event more than a dozen years ago.
While attendants took charge of placing plate after plate of samples before the judges, the rest of the congregation queued up in long rows, cups and plates at the ready. Servers came around all through the evening, first distributing rice, dal and sabjis from the "Large Preps" category. While these large containers continually circulated throughout the temple room, what remained of the other contest preparations after the judges had been served was also distributed to the congregation.
A great part of the pastime involved trying to get one's empty plate in front of the servers as they rushed about, delivering small quantities of a vast number of preps to the waiting devotees. Those situated on the ends of rows undoubtedly fared better than the small pockets of devotees 'land-locked' in the middle of the long queues.
The judges faced their own challenges throughout the evening: working their way through an incredible number of preps, each of which had to be tasted, savoured, considered, and ultimately judged in comparison to the many, many others on their plates. The task was daunting, to say the least.
By night's end, both the judges and most of the devotees appeared to be quite stuffed, and one had to walk carefully around the temple room floor, which was covered with plates, cups, pots and spills from an evening of high velocity prasadam distribution. As Jaya Govinda dasa noted, the event is a delightful experience in controlled chaos.
We look forward to announcing the names of the winners, and will perhaps be allowed to print some of their winning recipes. In the meantime, we can be sure that Lord Nityananda and all the Deities in residence were very pleased by the sincere efforts of the judges, cooks, and tasters who made the evening a great success.