Tuesday, February 26, 2008


By Dolcy D'Cruz

A young man's story from rags to riches made it to the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2008. 'Masci - The Man Behind the Legend' authored by daughter-in-law, Odette Mascarenhas, will receive the Special Award of the Jury this May.

Odette Mascarenhas, has always looked up to her father-in-law, Minguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas' achievements. In 2004, her husband, Joe, showed her his father's memories stored in a file. She decided to write a book as he had devoted 50 years to the Taj Group of Hotels. By 2005, the book was completed and published by Priya Distributors but sold only in Goa and at the Taj in Mumbai. Three years later, Odette is surprised by mail that nominates the book for the award.

Minguel Arcanjo was a simple lad from Anjuna. Born in 1904, he was forced to leave his family and move to Bombay to earn a livelihood, like thousands of Goans before and after him. As the eldest, though illiterate, it was his responsibility to educate three other siblings. He joined Taj Hotels in 1931 as a dishwasher, making his way to Executive Chef of the Hotel in 1945. A huge achievement for a Goan at a time when India was British ruled. He once served Pope John Paul II with custard Soufflé, leaving the Pope puzzled over the ingredients used. And so, Masci was called to the table and presented the Pope with a custard apple.
The fruit of that was Masci got the Pope blessings. He got the fruit back too, blessed. During the Independence struggle, the hotel would host meetings constantly followed by food; Masci was up for any challenge. In 1971, he inaugurated the kitchen of the new wing of the Taj Heritage built then for Rs. 1 cr.

Masci was married to Maria Deonizia and fathered seven children. "He was a very caring father," recalls Joe. "Whenever we visited Goa, he would hire a car and took us to meet our relatives."

He learnt his trade observing other chefs do French cuisine without leaving the kitchen. And was even able to convince people he had cooked food in wine, without actually doing so. In fact, Chef Urban do Rego was one of his first apprentices.

When Nasci breathed his last in 1981, JRD Tata touched his feet in the coffin and said: "We will never ever find a man like you."

Minguel Arcanjo is now a restaurant in Taj Exotica which has been named after Masci, as a result. The book covers Masci's life story with excerpts from his co-workers, and friends along with 50 of his recipes. Today, Odette is happy with just publishing the book in memory of Masci. She thought the first mail was a hoax, but the second one convinced her. Her joy is a Goan Chef winning an international award 27 years after his death.
"I feel proud for Masci and for me being chosen from among 109 countries
for the award."

Anjunkars are proud of Masci!

Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Bardez, Goa
Mob: 9420979201


Masci : The Man Behind the Legend/Odette Mascarenhas. New Delhi, Priya Distributors, 2008, 184 p., photographs,
Contents: Introduction. Acknowledgements. Masci-- the man behind the legend -- an Eulogy. The beginnings ....to an end: 1. The story of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas. 2. Would you rather scratch in the dirt or soar in the sky? 3. Science teaches us, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 4. Life is short, there is no way to file for an extension. 5. The man at the Helm. The Skill of the carpenter, lies not only in his tools: 1. Are we devotional or intellectual by temperament? 2. Most of us really don't know where our time goes. 3. You can't buy love and respect with constant activity. 4. How to catch lightning in a sauce bottle? 5. The hand that stirs the ingredients gets the rights product. 6. Total quality management starts at the top. We reap what we sow: 1. That personal touch. 2. The Creme a la Creme. 3. The Brand Ambassador. The fair of the fare - 50 recipes that delighted people the world over: I. Soups: 1. Potage Masci. 2. Potage minestrone alla lita. 3. Carrot vichysoisse. 4. Consomme celestine. 5. Sopa de catolina. II. Entrees: 6. Terrine de foie gras. 7. Maultaschen (German Preparation). 8. Chicken liver pate. 9. Pate en croute. 10. Meat loaf. III. Breakfast: 11. Sausage egg and onion pie. 12. Crepes au champignon. 13. Chocolate and raisin pancakes. IV. Salads: 14. Summer salad. 15. Shrimp and mushroom salad. 16. Salade Riz au Mangue. V. The main course: 17. Antipasto. 18. Filet de pomfret meuniere. 19. Pomfret Tandoori. 20. Mutton Tandoori. 21. Filet de pomfret caprice. 22. Lobster thermidor. 23. Prawn Patio. 24. Madras curry kabob. 25. Madras egg curry. 26. Methi Murg. 27. Poulet a la ratatouille. 28. Poulet roti a I'Americano. 29. Roast stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce. 30. Spiced honey roast duck. VI. The Goan affair: 31. Prawn curry Goa style. 32. Tisreo sukhe (Shellfish without gravy). 33. Pomfret recheade. 34. Chicken cafreal. 35. Pomfret Caldin. 36. Pork Balchao. 37. Pork Vindaloo. VII. Vegetarian fare: 38. Aubergine farcis a la Franciscan. 39. Mellanzane alla Parigiana. 40. Coriander flavoured Mushroom curry. 41. Stuffed vegetable marrow a I'Indienne. VIII. Snippets: 42. Pommes frites au belle pepper. 43. Pommes souffle. IX. Desserts: 44. Gateau Praline. 45. Plum pudding with brandy sauce. 46. Bibinca. 47. Fio de ovas. 48. Lemon Chiffon pie. 49. Apple pie a la mode. 50. Macedoine de fruit chantilly. 51. Baked alaska.
"The biography of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas, is a rags to success story. A Goan kitchen boy, whose job entailed plucking 200 chickens a day, to becoming a world celebrated chef, who catered to viceroys in the pre independence era, to royalty ..the late Shah of Iran and King Faud Ibn of Saudi Arabia.
What contributed to his performance?
Was it only the technical know how that helped him achieve his goal? Was it his SIF (Self Image Factor) or his FOS? These are various factors of success that represent the individual manner of thinking.
This book delves into the past of a celebrated chef during pre and post independence years.
A look at 'MASCI -- the man behind the legend'."

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