For the reason were were all there was to compete in the big Cook Off.
The brief? Create an original recipe showcasing Gourmet Garden herbs, that could be prepared in 45 minutes.
We arrived at the gorgeous Spicers Tamarind Retreat in Maleny, and I immediately added it to my ‘my stay here’ list. Such a stunning location, and the perfect backdrop for a fun day in the kitchen.
But there was no time to dawdle, as I discovered I would be cooking in the first group. Suddenly it all seemed very really – particularly when I saw my ingredients all laid out before me.
The 10 minutes prep time sped by, although I was quite pleased with how much I was able to get done in advance.
But then the official timer began, and it was time to cook!
My chosen dish was a herbed risotto with scallops and a chorizo crumb. A hearty, belly warming dish that reflects the type of meal I like to cook at home.
On reflection, I probably should have left out the scallops (they didn’t really add much), and chosen something that could be created in one pan (as opposed to multiple pans that required a bit of juggling on the two small burners we had to cook on).
The first part of the session seemed to pass by oh so slowly. But then suddenly there was only 10 minutes to go, and everything seemed to be a bit of a rush towards the end. A blur really.
But as the clock ticked down to zero, I was proud and happy to have completed my dish on time.
I knew the rice was perhaps a little underdone (something the judges agreed with), but the flavour was there.
And overall I was happy with the dish I presented.
Recipe to follow!
The bonus of being in the first group was that the pressure was then off. We ‘presented’ our dish for the judges and also for the camera (yes the whole experience was filmed and I am pretty positive I came across as a complete dork), then I was able to sit back and watch my fellow competitors cook their delightful meals.
One thing that became apparent to me in the few days leading up to the cook off portion of our trip was how different the competitors were. Sure, we all shared a love of cooking, and blogging, and most had kiddies of varying ages at home, but there was an element of 'difference' that made the whole experience all the more unique. Some lived in the city, some lived in the bush or on farms. Some were stay at home Mums, some were trying to find that balance between work and home.
I loved that we came from all walks of life, but found common ground in our love for food. Of cooking it, of creating it and, of course, of eating it.
And perhaps in a further testament to our differences, I was surprised to see that despite us all having the same ‘brief’ each and every dish created by the 11 bloggers was different.
But as they say, there can only be one winner, or in our case two winners (when you count the Australian and international winners…)
Laney for her scrummy quiche…
And Filipa for her delicious piri piri chicken!
Overall – this was a fantastic experience – that rekindled my love for cooking and creating new dishes in the kitchen. I mentioned it yesterday, but I am truly impressed withe Gourmet Garden brand, and how warmly they invited us into their business, and the competition as a whole was a lot of fun*****LINK****. So a big thankyou to all involved!
Oh and did I mention that Charlotte even managed to woo the judges at the end…
What about you? Ever participated in a cooking competition?