From May 24 to June 1, 2018, #ProjectTriyagyoni aimed to showcase Indian cuisine on a global platform. Two renowned chefs from India were behind this exemplary and adventurous expedition. Soundararajan P and Sanjay Thakur have set base in Island Peak (Imja Tse), Nepal, to set up a pop-up restaurant at an altitude of 5,585 metres! On June 2, 2018, the chefs successfully clinched a Guinness World Record for the world’s highest pop-up restaurant.
Imja Tse is a Himalayan mountain in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. Its popular name, Island Peak, comes from the fact that it looks like an island amidst icy mountains surrounding it. It was named so in 1951 and renamed as Imja Tse in 1983. However, Island Peak remains a popular choice among trekkers.
Soundararajan, a Corporate Executive Chef at Mahindra Resorts and Holidays, and Sanjay Thakur, a chef at Etihad Airways, decided this magnificent spot for their pop-up restaurant.
Since the location is right in the lap of the Himalayas, the temperature there is extremely low and the weather, unpredictable. They took a helicopter to fly from Lukla to Kathmandu and began their trek to Island peak.
The two chefs were accompanied by a team of seven other people, who collected Himalayan herbs, spices and meat on their way to Island Peak. According to a report published in The Hindu, this included mint, oregano, green chillies, green onions, yak cheese and Rhododendron flowers. Once at the desired location, the team took eight hours to set up the temporary restaurant.
Soundararajan told the publication, “Sanjay Thakur had already done an 80-kilometre trek up the Himalayas, and when we met at one of the Club Mahindra Resorts at Naldehra in Shimla, we took Thakur’s idea of cooking on the highest altitude of earth a step further, and Project Triyagyoni came into being.”
Once set up, the team took three hours to prepare their dishes.
Soundararajan added, “We cooked a total of seven dishes, including shisno mousse with mushrooms that we had foraged locally, and basa fish with wild spinach.” In addition to this, they made dal rice, arancini stuffed with yak cheese and yak milk pannacotta.
These dishes were served to the trekkers climbing up to the Imja Tse and higher peaks in Nepal. The team ensured that this was a zero-waste project, which utilised local raw materials from Nepal.
Although Soundararajan says that the high altitudes and low oxygen levels have affected his memories of the trip, the overall experience is one he will cherish for a lifetime.
Speaking to Live Chennai, Soundararajan said, “#ProjectTriyagyoni was a life-changing experience for each of us who took part in this extraordinary journey. It was a pleasure to collaborate with Chef Sanjay and put our complementary skills to the best use. The journey was a surreal experience and was one of the most cherished moments of my career so far. It is a matter of great pride and honour to be a part of the Guinness Book of World Records, which will undoubtedly put Indian culinary craft on the global center stage.”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)