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Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak

So passionate is he about pushing Indian culinary delights to the top of the world charts that he does not flinch from venturing out to any extreme to bring the focus of the food connoisseurs on Brand India food. Flying on the wings of Etihad Airways, and regularly running a kitchen up to 40,000 feet in the air, it was but natural for him to reach out to lofty heights on the ground as well. And, lo and behold, young Sanjay Thakur, all of 31 years, is today on top of the world with the Guinness organisation acknowledging his feat, accomplished along with his much senior journeyman Dr. Chef Soundararajan, Corporate Executive Chef of Mahindra Holidays and Resorts, of setting up and running the world’s highest altitude pop-up restaurant ‘Triyagyoni’ (meaning Organic Nature) on Island Peak (locally called Imja Tse) at a height of 20,000 feet in Nepal, short of Mount Everest. Photographer Rajesh Kumar Yadav, who ventured with the chef duo and their team of ‘sherpa’ guides and helpers on this life-threatening expedition to capture and document their exploits, played an equally crucial role in achieving the world record status.

Having received the Guinness certification on June 1, 2018, an overjoyed Sanjay and Rajesh, both based out of Chandigarh, shared their challenging but sweet memories with media persons in a city hotel on June 6. “Though we had prepared meticulously over months for the most difficult trek of our lives – from the world’s most dangerous airport at Lukla in Eastern Nepal to the Island Peak, touching the Everest Base Camp on the way – there were occasions when the situation appeared hopeless. But each time we were able to overcome our nerves and push ahead. Finally, we made it to the spectacular Island Peak at around 10:05 a.m. on May 30, after six gruelling days, trekking 16 hours non-stop on the final stretch,” said Sanjay,  showing no signs of wear and tear or fatigue.

Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak, Lifeinchd

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

Chef Sanjay Thakur (left) and Dr. Chef Soundararajan receiving the Guinness certificate

He went on : “It took us a little over an hour to pitch two tents – one for the makeshift kitchen and the other for the fine dining pop-up restaurant – and we were in business. We prepared an eight-course meal for the guests using locally sourced produce like ‘shishnu’ (also called ‘bichhbooti’ in Himachal Pradesh), juniper berries, nak (female of yak) dairy and cheese, spices and eco-friendly fuel cakes. A separate three-course traditional sherpa meal was prepared for the sherpas accompanying us. We were lucky to get three clear hours of sunny weather before the snow began to fall and we had to wind up and head back.

Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak, Lifeinchd

8-Cource Meal Served To 10 Guests

“During these three hours we were able to serve course by course meal (that’s what fine dining is about) to 10 guests from three nationalities – Dutch, Nepalese and Indian. Our mission was accomplished without having to take recourse to oxygen support, even when at that height oxygen level was a mere 43 percent of what it is at sea level. However, the expedition was not without casualties. Two sherpas and a second photographer in our team reported sick on the way up and had to be hospitalised.”

Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak, Lifeinchd

Explaining the rationale behind his planning such a challenging activity, Chef Sanjay Thakur, who is Vice President of Young Chefs Association of India, said “Indian cuisine has been steadily losing out to other world cuisines in the hearts and minds of the food connoisseurs worldwide, which is a cause for concern. We have to reach out to the world with activities that create a buzz for the unique and unmatched style of Indian cooking, hence the idea of the expedition. This is my 9th pop-up restaurant, with the previous ones having been set up in different countries in other parts of the world which I travel to as part of my engagement with Etihad Airways.”

Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak, Lifeinchd

Scouting For Unexplored Ingredients

Chef Sanjay Thakur is also involved in a ‘Himalayan Soil” project in association with local scientists to unravel more secrets of the treasure trove of yet unexplored food ingredients like  vegetables, fruits, herbs, medicinal plants, spices, etc. in his native state Himachal Pradesh which he plans to integrate in his cuisines and help strengthen the sustainable food chain.

Chef Sanjay Thakur Sets Guinness Mark At 20,000 Ft. Island Peak, Lifeinchd

Chef Sanjay Thakur and Photographer Rajesh Yadav with the Guinness certificate in Chandigarh

Chef Sanjay Thakur and Rajesh Kumar Yadav now plan to produce a documentary on their escapades in the Himalayas. salutes their indomitable spirit, and wishes them all success in their future adventures. 

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