Monday, May 6, 2013

Tefal Cooking Challenge: Cooking Workshop at ONAKA Restaurant

Frannywanny's note: A few weeks ago, I embarked on a new challenge. Yes, new home, new environment, new life...new challenge! 2013 is really something, noh? I joined the Tefal Chef Challenge together with 4 other food/cooking bloggers and the first step was to attend a cooking demo with local Chefs Benson Tong and Jason Vito. Click here for the full website as I would be need all your support very soon! Here's the entry that I've posted in the official Tefal Chef Challenge site.

Just like anything in this world, one has to train in order to learn and to master whatever skill he or she would like to acquire. This training takes days...months...sometimes years and together with it comes a good amount of dedication and willpower in order to succeed. Of course, there's also the question of who should train YOU. In every field, we have the masters. One who's knowledge we wish would be imparted to us, the skill we hope we would someday embody and the respect that we aspire to attain in due time.

In the kitchen, we have the culinary masters. Actually, it has come to a point wherein I believe these masters have special powers. Unlike regular human beings, they are gifted with magical hands that can easily create one mouthwatering dish after the other. Thus, because of them, we all live a yummy life.

Oh how I wish I can someday be like them...

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Well, everything starts with the first step and here I was in front of ONAKA Restaurant and Wine Bar inside the Alexandra Retail Center (ARC) one lovely afternoon. Luckily, the restaurant was so close to home so it wasn't a challenge to get there at all. All the while, I thought ONAKA was a Japanese restaurant. Okay, make that a healthy Japanese restaurant. Well, I was partially correct. It is a healthy restaurant but its dishes are more Asian in theme than just Japanese. ONAKA stands for Optimum Nutrition and Kitchen Arts. It's a restaurant that focuses on Conscious Cuisine. This is just perfect given that we all have to start watching what we eat in order to keep an active and healthy lifestyle.

As my wise friend would say, the secret to a healthy life is to exercise regularly and to have a healthy nutritious diet. Today, people are getting into different types of diets -- low-salt, gluten-free, low-carb, no-carb, vegan, pesco-vegetarian...and the list goes on and on. For people with these types of diets, eating out can sometimes be an ordeal. Agree? Either you can't eat anything from the menu or the dish is usually bland and boring.

Well, things are about to change the moment you try dining at ONAKA. For one thing, the entire menu has different dishes to suit your nutritional needs. Vegans, for instance, will enjoy going through the different veggie-friendly dishes available. The good part is, you are assured of good tasting food too! I personally can assure you of that.

I was at ONAKA for my first ever cooking workshop here in Singapore. It was conducted by both Chefs Jason Vito and Benson Tong. Making use of my favorite cookware brand in the whole wide world -- TEFAL, they demonstrated three easy recipes within the span of an hour and a half! That's including a lot of chit-chatting here and there as well as us being able to try all three (3) dishes too!

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Our first dish was the Garlic Prawns on Toast. I love anything with shrimps and most especially when it's cooked gambas-style. This is one easy recipe that will probably only take you 30 minutes from preparation down to presentation. The tiger prawns were very crisp and I just love the flavorful sauce that was produced after cooking the shrimp with a mix of herbs and spices (rosemary, garlic, chili and lime leaf), white wine and olive oil (note: not EVOO). Chef Jason has added a piece of rye bread as base for the shrimps and within minutes, the bread has soaked up the extra sauce poured on top making it simply delectable. Notice the foam on top of the shrimp? Don't worry, the dishwasher was no where near the food. This is actually made of soy lechitin, lime juice and a very handy blender stick. This dish was so good that we all just kept on saying "mmmm" after every bite.


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Moving on, we had the Roasted Mushroom Soba. Initially, I though this dish was very Japanese but as I watched Chef Jason work his magic on this traditional Japanese noodle dish, I realized that this is a perfect example of the beauty that happens when East meets West.

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The Roasted Mushroom Soba made use of four kinds of mushroom, a dashi stock which Chef has prepared for at least 90 minutes (1.5 hours) and Japanese soba. To make it more interesting, he drizzled a good amount of truffle oil before serving. Oh, the moment I got a whiff of the delicious truffle oil, I felt my heart skip a beat and my tummy doing cartwheels with happiness. I'm in love with truffle oil and I knew right away this dish will be a winner. Would you believe that no meat was added in here but we all felt it was very filling even after having a small serving of the Roasted Mushroom Soba. This is can easily be every vegans yummy dream come true.

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Of course, every meal is not complete without dessert. For our 3rd dish, Chef Jason prepared a very unique Pumpkin Pancake with Banana Ice Cream. I love pancakes and it was just perfect timing that I was craving for it. However, Chef Jason didn't settle for your everyday been-there-done-that type of flapjacks.

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Before we began with this 3rd dish, we met a new friend! Meet Mr. Butter Nut Squash (BNS)! Isn't he a cutie?

This was one dish and I was actually so surprised to learn that making pancakes from scratch can be this easy! No shortcuts here, Chef Jason made use of raw ingredients (no instant mixes) to create those fluffy pancakes with sweet butter nut squash as filling.  As an added treat, we were given a scoop of homemade Banana Ice Cream which made it even more heavenly good!

Our cooking demo was short but it left me so inspired to prepare healthier dishes from now on. I've been talking endlessly about wanting to take extra care of our health and I guess this is the best way to start.

Now armed with my Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan and the Tefal Comfort Touch Saute Pan on both hands, excuse me while I head to the kitchen as the road towards a healthier, happier me begins TODAY.

Check back soon as I can't wait to share my kitchen creations with you! ♥

1 comment:

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