To put it simply, the Gourmand Awards is the Oscar Award of the food and drink publishing business. The Awards celebrate global cookbook and wine book publishing, and feature many world-renowned chefs every year. The Gourmand Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau, and its international headquarters is located in Spain.
The news report which announced my win read “Indian writer P.T. Bopanna’s book ‘The Romance of Indian Coffee’ has been adjudged as the best book on coffee in the world at the 2016 Gourmand World Awards event held in China.”
The book was earlier shortlisted from the competing book entries of 64 countries. In the final round, the book was ranked first, followed by entries from the US and Brazil. For a bit of background, ‘The Romance of Indian Coffee’ was published in 2011, and takes a 360 degree view of Indian coffee.
The previous Indian winners of the award, include Vir Sanghvi, Rocky and Mayur of ‘Highway on my plate’ fame and Pushpesh Pant the food historian and critic.
I was invited for the Gourmand awards ceremony at Yantai, the wine capital of China, it was scheduled on May 28, 2016. However, the Chinese government denied me the visa for the event. It is quite possible that being a Communist country, they did not want a journalist from an unfriendly country like India visiting a port city away from Beijing.
Or maybe my booking a hotel room near the Tiananmen Square raised their suspicion. Honestly, I was curious to visit the Tiananmen Square where thousands of protesters of the pro-democracy movement were shot down in 1989.
Coming back to my book, I should clarify that I mainly anchored the book and wrote a couple of chapters, and that most of the content was contributed by subject matter experts.
For instance, Dr. Anand Titus Pereira and his wife, Mrs Geeta Nanaiah Pereira, scientists, who run a coffee farm near Sakleshpur, shared their research findings.
Harish Bijoor, brand guru, wrote an invigorating foreword to the book. Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa and Boverianda M. Chinnappa, both writers and researchers, went through the manuscript of the book and offered valuable suggestions. C.P. Belliappa, author, contributed a chapter on the history of coffee.
Aparna Datta a communications consultant and writer, penned two chapters exclusively for the book, including one on the evolution of the café culture in India.
The talented and beautiful Priya Ganapathy, writer and radio jockey wrote a chapter on brewing a good cup of coffee and went on to contribute a few coffee recipes.
My young friend Franz Mendonsa, who has a Master’s in Entertainment Technology from the world renowned Carnegie Mellon University, designed the cover page for the book. Pattamada Sundar Muthanna, writer, wrote the ‘blurb’ for the back cover page.
The Indian Coffee Board extended support in gathering material for the book. Ms. Roop Rashi, the then Director of Finance, Coffee Board, offered valuable suggestion to give an all-India focus to the book and reach out to a wider readership.
K.P. Uthappa, planter, provided valuable material for the book from his personal library.
I have been fortunate in being able to bring together the finest minds in their respective core areas, to create a winner that is now recognised as a world-beater!