Surfing the web, I stumbled across this. Which immediately brought back memories from two years ago. With that said…
Obtaining this life altering device wasn’t as easy as the title may suggest, I have to say. Of course we could have walked in a store and bought one. But our approach was more fun, at times stressful and foremost unexpected. I don’t necessarily like long-winded stories myself, so I’ll try to stick to the facts and the highlights of our first (and perhaps last) cooking contest.
While O. was gone to the US on a business trip, I decided to take part in a recipe/cooking contest (Cooking Cup), which was hosted by the publishers of the magazine Elle bistro. I submitted my favorite seafood recipe for the fun of it, not hearing back for weeks. Completely forgotten about it, out of the blue, I received a call and an invitation to the first round of the Cooking Cup contest.
This faced me with two challenges: For one, my <<favorite>> recipe didn’t – per se – exist at the time, it was more or less a combination of different dishes I thought would make a great contribution, based on the only fish I like without reservation – pike perch. Secondly I needed to get O. to buy in. So in a prep frenzy we made this dish first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. After the third time we felt confident that we could pull it off in front of a fierce jury.
The dish I came up with was lemon spiced pike perch on a wild rocket salad with pine nut dressing, accompanied by Mediterranean oven roasted vegetables.
Round 1 This first session was hosted at a local kitchen store in Munich, just 5 minutes walking distance from our apartment. Using their kitchens on display (the ones facing the street) every so often passer-by’s would stop and watch us cutting fish, grinding spices…etc. The atmosphere generally was pretty relaxed, except an isolated sign of aggression in the beginning, when one of the couples got upset because the host (the kitchen store supplied the food in the first round) couldn’t get exactly the kind of ingredients they needed for their dish. Bad strategy.
Disbelieving – we won this first round. The jury and the hosts were so very hospitable and contributed some cooking on their own – late hour pan cakes, accompanied by some bottles of champagne. What a combination ;)
Round 2 Different location, different jury and definitely more competitive. One of the new jury members, a professional and highly awarded chef, was a weird one. Throughout the cooking he made a face that would cause milk to become sour. Asking him questions, caused you to regret to have asked in the first place – why on earth did he take part in the jury, if he didn’t like what he was doing? The more surprised we were at the end, when it was he who complimented us on the dressing and the fish. With also winning this round, we couldn’t believe that the first price was a full blown KitchenAid – we even could decide on the color – yeah! (unfortunately we couldn’t get the fancy colors here in Germany, so we went with black). Funny side story: one of the other couples had an attorney in their team, who gave the jury a hard time, a really hard time. We all felt a little embarrassed, this was supposed to be pure fun – nothing more…
Round 3 Battle-field. This third round was fun as for the event itself, logistically a challenge. The three chefs (two decorated with stars) gave all participating six teams an exact schedule. Originally being second to present, we were asked to jump in and serve first, with the other team being way behind.
We managed to be on time in spite of the new schedule, however only half of the jury was present. What?! After they finally all appeared (where were they?), the food has become lukewarm. Of course, we didn’t win this time. But considering that we had zero expectations, we ended up being 4th place out of 200+ initially invited participants. All participants were rewarded with even more presents that night…
The hosts of all three rounds were very enthusiastic and supportive, so were the representatives of Elle bistro and the organizing agency. One could have argued about the chefs being a little more laid-back and accessible, since the entire event was a fun event to begin with.
Bottom line, even though it was great fun/experience at the time and seeing our picture in the magazine, we didn’t spend a second thought on doing it again. Preparing fine food for friends and family and people that share the same penchant for good cooking is wonderful, doing it competitively is a whole different story.
PS: The KitchenAid has become a full member of the family :)