What does one do when a favorite brand organizes a blogger meetup and sends a special invitation? One marks the calendar and looks forward to it. In my case, I also get so excited I recommend my blogger friends – for, what good is happiness if not shared, eh?
Oct 10, 2015 was the date and 10.30 am found Sid and yours truly bright and early at the venue, ITC Gardenia. Early, because we wanted to be one up on the traffic. Looked like many others had the same idea. After all, Bangalore Saturday traffic can be quite unpredictable.
While we waited, I was treated to a cup of coffee and enjoyed catching up with the others. At 11 sharp, we were invited to register for the event, simply titled:
“ITC Foods You Ask We Answer”
As we walked towards the registration desk, we were delightfully distracted by the display of delicacies – all healthy options consisting largely of natural juices and other dessert concoctions.
I was happy to take pictures of it all, but couldn’t resist the flaxseed wadas. What is it about wadas that makes one desperately want to grab and consume! I succumbed. And loved it.
The attendance was growing and it was great to see lots of people I have met previously. Quite like family, you know! Of course, after registration, one more hurdle had to be crossed, in the form of coffee and tea counters. Again, I gave in and opted for tea in a glass. Cutting chai.
Finally, we allowed ourselves to be ushered into the hall that was set with tables where groups could sit comfortably and get a great view of the dais.
A lively welcome and introduction was followed by a very interesting “talk” by Rajesh V L, the CEO of ITC Foods. That man can hold a stage. Humor, information, facts were presented beautifully in a very personalized way. He also answered all the questions thrown at him with elan.
Next up was Kavita Chaturvedi, Head of Marketing, and “mummy” of the Yippee brand. She took us through the birth of the brand and the extensive research that went into the final product. We enjoyed videos featuring the very personnel who worked at their facilities. Also, since there has been a lot of controversy about a particular brand of noodles recently, ITC has gone out of its way to assure its customers about the safety of its products. Please do check out the videos here on YouTube.
The ITC presentations were followed by a very enlightening and lively Question and Answer session moderated by Archana of Archana’s Kitchen. Most of the questions focused on safety of product, safety of ingredients and availability of a wider range, all of which were deftly fielded with honest answers by the ITC team. Very enjoyable!
Something to read: Is Yippee Safe?
We then had a demo by the ITC Chefs led by Chef Kamlesh Joshi who prepared Khow suey with Yippee noodles. Seemed like quite a quick healthy dish and we were told that it would be served at lunch later. We looked forward to it.
Next came the cook off! We were divided into teams, given an aisle of ingredients and our task was to make a dish with yippee noodles. Our team had Praveen, Sid, Freya, Bhavna and me.
We had great fun preparing this:
And yes, of course the chefs who judged the teams liked it. See their expression?
We came in third. Praveen suggested golgappa noodles but we decided to go in for the chatpata noodles instead….and the winning team made…yes, you guessed it – gol gappa noodles. Another team made pizza noodles. All in all – it was a fun hour before we went for lunch.
Lunch was a huge spread with a mix of cuisines and a few noodle dishes. I heard the noodle pizza was good, and as promised the Khow suey was also there. Big dessert variety too.
Lunch became more enjoyable with pleasant conversation and each one of us received a hamper to take home. The event concluded and we returned home feeling happy.
My fond history with the ITC brand
That I swear by the ITC brand for most ingredients I use in my kitchen is a given. So obviously I love the brand. I use their Ashirwad atta – my son rolled his first roti with this – and so wheat flour is better known in our house as “Ashirvaad” Generic name. The Foods Division of ITC Limited has some great brands in its basket and besides Aashirvaad atta, other staples in my home are their biscuit range: Sunfeast, Dark Fantasy, Dream Cream, Delish us, Bounce, their chips range Bingo! Yumitos, their juice range B Natural, their ready to eat Chef inspired range Kitchens of India and of course, the favorite – noodles – Yippee! I confess I’ve bribed my son many times with Bingo Mad Angles.
I remember the first time my son met “Yippee” – it was when they received sample packs at school. My son loves Yippee noodles/pasta and Sunfeast pasta. Really loves them. So much that he once voluntarily participated in a cooking competition where the mandate was “use noodles and tomato creatively”. He won in his age category and of course we were very proud. His dish was delicious.
I will always have a soft spot for ITC. Earlier on in my corporate career, they were one of the major clients in my portfolio and it was a pleasure to “manage” the account, especially Bhadrachalam PaperBoards. I don’t mind confessing that I always scheduled my visits to this company first thing in the morning just to get the day off to a good start. They were a model client and I have many fond memories.
What did I love about the event?
- The meet was very well organized and we were engaged throughout. Not a moment of slack. No lengthy explanations of the me-me-me kind. The sessions were very interactive and fun. We came away with a full mind and of course, tummy.
- I liked the whole concept of the meet. Bloggers are influential. What better way to spread the message about how a brand works, what it cares about, its ideals, its ethics and its responsiveness than reaching out to bloggers who can share with their networks?
- All questions were received enthusiastically and the response was reassuring. When it comes to concerns about a food ingredient, nothing is too trivial.
- A virtual trip through their world-class research facility was fascinating, as was the information about how they were giving back to the farmers.
- I loved their focus on “indigenous” and “sustainability”. Their portal offers a downloadable report
- I was impressed when the CEO emphasized on “KYC” – Know Your Consumer – because therein lies the success of any brand.
- The information related to their intensive research, product testing, quality control measures, how they decided on what packaging materials to use, the processes involved – was all very interesting to know. Great way to build confidence in a brand.
- Lunch was scrumptuous with an array of dishes – huge variety – and dessert. The good folks were kind enough to let me take home the Tiramisu, which my son enjoyed very much a week later. I just rinsed out the pretty little glass jar and have plans for it.
- The entire staff was very courteous and attentive. ITC Gardenia, the venue is a beautiful place and it is always good to visit.
- I must especially mention Gopika Kaul, who was most welcoming throughout our interaction, and continues to be.
- As always, it is great to meet fellow bloggers. Not that we have to wait for an event – we don’t – but it helps. Face to face interaction – nothing beats that.
A good time was had by all.
If you love noodles, might like to read this: About MSG and Lead