Published: 26th February 2018
This culinary space in Hyderabad helps children become independent in the kitchen
In this one-month project run by Hyderabad-based Gopi Byluppala, children between the age of 7 and 15 learn cooking tricks that even the their grandmothers might not know
As soon as we exchange pleasantries with Gopi Byluppala, the force behind The Culinary Lounge (TCL), a culinary space in Hyderabad, he excuses himself for a minute and spends it consoling a baby in the background. Then, very sheepishly he admits, “If you hear a baby crying, please ignore it. My wife works in the US and our baby is here with me.” And we reckon that this is the same sensitivity with which the Hyderabad-based entrepreneur handles the children who are already a part of his one-month-old project, I’m Possible Chef, which aims at taking cooking classes beyond recipes.
Though the age limit set for enrolling in classes is between 7 and 15, they occasionally admit five and six-year-olds as “they are so passionate that it is hard to say no,” says Byluppala
“We want to make children independent in the kitchen and reduce their dependency on a maid in the absence of their parents,” says the 35-year-old. After conducting over 75 events at TCL, the need for an initiative like this occurred to him. “Parents would express their child’s desire to cook and learn on several occasions,” he recalls.
Beyond kitchen: The TCL space in Jubilee Hills
So, on January 23, Byluppala launched I’m Possible Chefs at TCL’s 5,000-square-foot space in the upmarket locality of Jubilee Hills, which houses six cooking stations. During class, each station is occupied by three children and manned by one sous chef each, and the sessions are supervised by the host. “We never issue silly reprimands like ‘Don’t touch that’. We treat kids like adults,” he maintains.
There are two courses — a Basic course and an Advanced course — conducted for a month each and are held on Sundays for two hours. Though classes begin at 10.30 am, the eager chefs start pouring in by 9.45 am. (Now isn’t that a testament to the chef!) During the Basic course, “the first two classes are used just to introduce the kids to the kitchen — the gadgets and the types of equipment,” whereas they go a step further in the Advanced course.
Shows like MasterChef glamourise the profession for children, but we need to remind them that it’s intense and requires hard work
Gopi Byluppala, entrepreneur
But Byluppala tells us that these courses don’t teach cooking and baking alone. “Cooking together teaches them teamwork, social skills, cleanliness, sensible use of water and so much more. We also discourage the use of plastic bottles and have had instances where kids have insisted on glass bottles at home as well,” he shares.
Now, Byluppala is going beyond all this and is even curating summer camps for six schools, with the aim of starting internships for children, where they can work in their space. He also plans to conduct awareness workshops in collaboration with culinary schools regarding the life of a chef and the opportunities the profession holds. Even the passive birthday party finds a twist here as I’m Possible designs interactive birthdays where kids make their own pizzas and chocolates — basically cooking themselves a wonderful birthday feast. “This sector is going to evolve drastically,” says Byluppala and he wants to make sure that when it does reach its full potential, his little chefs are able to leverage it.
For more information check out their Facebook page facebook.com/Impossiblechefs/