Cooking up a storm with Alvin

2011-09-30 10:16

Last Sunday I spent the afternoon judging the finals of the Spekko Cook Like a Master cooking challenge with Alvin Quah of MasterChef Australia fame.

Nervous at the prospect of adding my opinion to that of a man who has become a household name for his kitchen talents and vast wealth of facial expressions, I needn’t have worried.

When it comes to what tastes good, being a greedy eater has its advantages.

Besides, Foodiction chef Barry Farnan was there to consult with the contestants and offer his expert opinion on seasoning and ingredient use.
Farnan was also responsible for the mystery basket of ingredients that the four finalists had to work with.

They were Springbok loin, vanilla pod, artichokes, agar agar, spring onion, white chocolate, yoghurt, mayonnaise, onion chilli relish, fennel and oranges.

The cooking competition takes place at the Good Food & Wine Show every year in Cape Town and Durban, but this year was its first time in Joburg.

Quah said that he was impressed with all the contestants, adding that when he was selected for MasterChef he had about the same amount of experience.

“My mother taught me to cook,” he said, a person most of the contestants seemed to have got their start from.

If just the contestants of this competition are anything to judge by, our cooking talent is gobsmacking.

At a dinner before the competition began, the 36 finalists represented a microcosm of South African society – ranging in colour, experience, age and profession.

To win, 48-year-old housewife Natalie Naidoo cooked her Springbok loin to perfection and served it with delicious spicy vegetable medley, and her rice pudding was simply sublime.

Farnan said of her victory: “I think Natalie won because here flavours were a little bit more bold and outside the box, and they just went so well together.”

I think the MasterChef South Africa contest promises to be as exciting as the Australian version.

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