Varun Sudhakar Champions World Class Final India 2014
Created by spirits conglomerate Diageo, World Class recognizes the most skilled and creative bartenders in the world. Each year, national World Class champions from more than 40 countries come together to test their mettle behind the bar.
In India, the last 6 months have been exciting and exhilarating ones for 20 bartenders who after winning their regional rounds were training and preparing for their chance to win the 2014 India finals of World Class. The regional rounds took place in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The finals were conducted at Arola, the Spanish restaurant at JW Marriott, Mumbai.
The day long event saw these youngsters push themselves like never before. They were tested on theory, practical skills, innovation and speed. After a day full of activity, the top 20 gave way to the top 5 challengers – Varun Sharma from Taj Mahal, Delhi; Dilbar Singh and Gaurav Dhyani from Taj Palace Delhi, Varun Sudhakar from Four Seasons, Mumbai and Shaun Colaco from Trident, Mumbai.
Their final test was one of speed and agility. Each was given 3 minutes to set up their bar and another 5 minutes to shake up 8 cocktails. To qualify, one had to create a minimum of 4 cocktails. As each of the 5 finalists took their place behind the bar for this final test, their hopes, aspiration and nervousness became apparent. The list of 8 drinks given to them included Moscow Mule, Vodka and Tonic, Gin and Tonic, Whiskey Sour, Cosmopolitan, Martini, amongst others. The judging panel included Shivam Misra, Commercial Director, Diageo; Adam Devermann, Brand Ambassador, Grand Marnier; Raveen Misra, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, West India; Pedro Rafael, Diageo Brand Ambassador, South India and Zbigniew Zapert, Diageo Brand Ambassador, North India. The challenge was a test of their ability to multitask, manage time, think on their feet and most importantly consistently create a quality drink.
This was Varun Sudhakar’s second win, he was the winner of the 2013 edition of World Class Final India as well.
The competition was tough and close, Mumbai’s Sudhakar and Singh from Delhi put up a great show. Both made 7 out of the listed 8 drinks, but their individual style was what made them stand apart. While Sudhakar was a true performer with skills and fast pace, Singh was a man in control, never losing focus with eyes only to achieve his goal. Dhyani was a combination of both speed and control, who managed to stun the judges by setting up his bar satisfactorily within 2 minutes. He however did falter in the last 60 seconds of his 5 minutes missing out on making his 7th drink. Sharma and Colaco both fared reasonably as well.
Sudhakar was adjudged the winner at the end of the night. Singh and Dhyani were the 2 runners-up. This was Sudhakar’s second win, he was the winner of the 2013 edition of World Class Final India as well. This win opens up myriad opportunities for him. We spoke to Bhavesh Somaya, Marketing and Innovation Director at Diageo India to know how Sudhakar will be groomed for the global finals. “Both, Four Seasons, Mumbai and Diageo India have made an integrated training plan for Varun to compete at the global level. It involves – grooming and presentation skills, social and communication skills, practice on the basics – spirits, speed challenge practice and also work on projecting himself as an individual. We are exposing him to current global trends and also building a strong foundation with classics being the focus,” he said.
Sudhakar’s journey in the world of bartending just took a new course and we wish him all the very best not just for the Grand Finale in Britain but also his future endeavors.