This was indeed a magnificent journey and although I didn’t win in my category – Stalwart of the Kitchen – it was an experience I would cherish or the rest of my life. It all started when I entered the competition about a month ago with a starter of Chicken Liver kebab (recipe is on the blog) with creamy samp and a main of Pan-fried Smoked Trout with a fennel spring salad (recipe also on the blog). I never actually expected to get anywhere and was so surprised when Jacqui Gunn of the Avusa Media called me to inform me that out of hundreds of entries I was one of the four finalists to compete in a cook-off in Cape Town. Indeed a magnificent accomplishment for myself and Taste Café.
“The awards aim to recognise individuals within all areas of the food industry; whether they are at the start of their culinary career or have worked behind the scenes for many years,” says Jacqui Gunn, Avusa Media business manager. “It was great to see so many new names and faces, a whole new generation of chefs emerging into the limelight in the hospitality industry. The competition is achieving what we set out to do five years ago in giving these chefs their moment to shine!”
All competing chefs followed the same protocol and cooked from a mystery basket of ingredients that were compulsory to use in their dishes. The mystery baskets remained confidential until the cook-off time, and all plates were presented to the judges anonymously. Contestants were given thirty minutes to plan a three-course menu and to set up the kitchen in preparation of their dishes.
Stalwarts of the Kitchen competed on Wednesday, 5 October hoping to impress the judging panel with their talent. Delvin Reck, winner of the Stalwart of the Kitchen category, competed against Willie Cloete from Taste Café, Pretoria, Thomas Matowerenyi from Lion Sands Game Reserve in White River and Mark Goliath from the Southern Sun, Cape Sun.
For the competition our mystery basket consisted of Angelfish, rack of lamb, asparagus, puy lentils, feta cheese and sweet potato. For starter I prepared Pan-fried Angelfish on green beans and rosa tomatoes with an orange romesco sauce, and for main I prepared an Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb with feta & sweet potato mash, lentils, carrot ribbons and an asparagus veluté.
I look forward to further my career and continue to bring to all my loyal customers excellent food and products. To everybody who supported me, helped me to prepare and who were just thinking of me, a huge thank you, it is much appreciated.
As soon as I have received photos of the event from Sunday Times and the DVD, I will publish more images and a video clip or two about the competition.