For those of us who are familiar with ‘the invention test’ featured on Masterchef, contestants are provided with a random selection of various ingredients and tasked with using them to whip up a dish or two.
The same concept took place at our City Restaurant recently when the Bristol Rotary Club hosted an exciting mystery cooking competition for our cookery students, challenging them to produce two dishes; either a starter and a main or a main and a dessert.
The stakes were high, with a £40 cash top prize up for grabs, a second place £20 cash prize, and all taking part receiving a certificate and commemorative apron to mark the occasion.
Geoff Peattie, President of the Bristol Rotary Club and Leigh Mitchell kindly gave up their time to host the competition at our College Green City Restaurant.
They were accompanied by Guest chef, John Watson, who was on hand to judge the dishes and dish out culinary advice and tips whilst cooking was taking place.
As the timed competition drew to a close, the heat of the kitchen ceased, and students had to submit their dishes for them to be judged.
John meticulously filled in score sheets and judged students on their:
– Healthy choice of dishes
– Correct use of knives and equipment
– Whether the meal was served on time and at the correct temperature
– Neatness of working area and hygiene
– Range of skills used
– Taste and presentation of the first course
– Taste and presentation of the second course
Each category offered up a potential 5 points with a total of 40 points up for grabs, the scoring system was implemented as follows:
5 points – Outstanding
4 points – Distinction
3 points – Commendable
2 points – Reasonable
1 point – Passable
Once all dishes were tasted and subsequently scored by John, the students were invited back into the restaurant as the scores were revealed.
John took to the floor to run through the maximum-scoring individual dishes first, revealing that Josh’s soup scored 5/5, Torin’s curry scored 5/5, Mark’s scotch egg scored 5/5, and Chloe’s dessert scored 5/5.
When announcing the second and first places, John said: “In joint second place, we’ve got two people…firstly, we’ve got Mark in second place!
“Well done, Mark, that scotch egg was absolutely banging, and your chicken scored 4/5. Great cooking, well done.”
Applause filled the air as John continued: “Also in second place was Mudabbir! The dishes could maybe be tweaked a little, like with the béarnaise. However, your planning, the way that you worked and your kitchen layout was just spot on, so well done for that.”
Then, it was time to announce first place, John said: “So we’ve got first place, and this person scored 5/5 in one of their dishes and 4/5 for their other dish. They had good skills and used a wide range of skills as well, and that was…Chloe!”
Before photos commenced and certificates were awarded, John offered one final piece of advice to the students with a closing statement to finish. He said: “Congratulations, really well done guys, that was a real challenge!
“Next time, really hone in on cooking well and seasoning. Don’t worry about cooking over complicated things; even I don’t do that in the restaurants that I work in, it’s too much work, and it gives you more room for error.
“So really simple ideas, really simple dishes and make sure that you execute it really well with perfect seasoning. That’s one of the reasons that Chloe did so well, because both of her dishes were just so well balanced.”
Speaking later about how he felt finishing second place, Mark said: “Oh my god, I feel absolutely on a proper high level. I couldn’t believe how hard the time restraints were.” Gesturing to his certificate, he beamed: “I love this, I’m going to frame this! This is just so fab, I’m very, very, very happy!”
So, what were Chloe’s award-winning dishes that allowed her to scoop the top prize? She cooked a plaice risotto complete with shallots, garlic, white wine, basil, sun-dried tomatoes and a baked parmesan crisp to top it all off.
For dessert, she curated a dish of lemon curd, whipped cream and a particularly delicious thyme shortbread.
Congratulations to all of our outstanding students who took part in the competition:
And a big thank you to Bristol Rotary Club, Geoff Peattie, Leigh Mitchell, John Watson and Ryan Fernandes for making the event possible; what a brilliant experience it was for the students with a little fun to finish the academic year.