Monday, December 21, 2009

Whose Cuisine will reign Supreme? ... at the ASC Iron Chef Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to judge an Iron Chef Challenge that was done with the Ad Strat Council of the Philippines, this is a group of corporate CEOs from both the FMCG and Advertising industries who stand has guardians to the ads being shown, printed and produced.

Being very busy individuals, majority of them rarely have the time to bring out their creative juices in the kitchen. Thus, with the help and expertise of a group called Skills and Innovation, a total of six groups were formed and they were tasked to create a full course meal for only two hours. The menu was a trio of appetizer bites, Chicken Cacciatore, Chocolate Trifle and their very own signature drink.

We arrived at exactly 1pm at the venue and after a short briefing I found myself part of a three-member judging team with two professional chefs as my co-judge. Woah! I was very much overwhelmed and I somehow felt that I am truly not worthy to be beside two food experts who surely know their way around food. With some morale boost from Paul, I went around and began chatting with the contestants as they happily prepared their meal.

Finally, it was time for us to take our place on the judging table and with a couple of creative spiels as introduction, we were served one by one with each dish as we took a small bite here and there. A number of the dishes were beautifully plated that I commented that it seems like they really do know about food styling and proper plating.

I've always been fond of appetizers and my favorite here was the sinful quail eggs with fish roe (ebiko) on top. I think I ate almost ten quail eggs that day. The cucumber with tuna salad was also very refreshing and is something I'll surely add into my menu on our next dinner.

Some of the chicken dish were a bit dry while others were a little bit on the salty side while at least three nailed it perfectly. I love my Chicken Cacciatore with just an ample amount of sauce and is well pan-fried to make the skin crispy.

The dessert was also very delightful! I particularly liked one that has a bit of coffee flavor added into it. It gave more life to the chocolate and lady fingers blend. If only I wasn't already too stuffed from the numerous dishes that we have tasted, I could have probably finished the entire trifle in one sitting. Yum!

Lastly, the drink was a test of how well we can handle our alcohol. While some went on party mode and had a multiply mix of alcoholic drinks blended into their very own signature drink, others went wholesome with a sweet, fruity shakes that reminded me of our trip to Boracay.

Patterned after the famous Iron Chef competition, we took turns in giving our comments to each group after their respective presentation.

After all of the dishes have been presented and tasted, we had to tally up the score and announce the winner of the competition.

It surely was a close fight most especially with the top 3 groups, one bested the other in terms of plating while the one came out as the best in flavors... finally, the award goes to the.... RED TEAM!

What made this event truly exciting was seeing all participants enjoying and having a great time. It was also a great pleasure for me to sit beside two professional chefs in the industry and it somehow made me wonder if it's really time for me to pursue my dreams. :)

Thank you to Skills and Innovation for inviting me. It's really amazing to see a group of young ex-professionals from the FMCG industry who continues to conduct team building activities such as the Iron Chef challenge and a lot more for big companies not only here in the country but abroad.

photo credits: Paul Ang

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