in preparation for the big event, the team engages in a series of practice dinners that seek to recreate the competition environment. this is serious business. apart from the stresses of competition cooking, it adds the extra pressure of having to use the mystery basket ingredients provided to create a three course meal for paying customers. this round was at TTHTI, so our friends at THRTA invited us to take in some of the action. action indeed. lots of slicing...
...and dicing. made possible by sponsors MALABAR FARMS FOOD SERVICES who are providing all the ingredients for these tasty training sessions... 12 in total.
and while we're talking about sponsors, we must mention BRYDENS for supplying the ingredients for the bartender's drink as well as MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION for supplying wines to accompany the dinner. check out the drink demo in the video.
the chefs used the ingredients in a very creative manner, taking local favorites and giving them that international slant needed to win a competition like this.
it was a rush seeing them maneuver the kitchen with the intent of preparing the meals in time for the 8 o' clock dinner time that guests were invited to be seated for.
it seemed like no time at all before a calm prep turned into a fast paced production line styled plating session.
unlike the previous competition, they had to prepare way more than two plates. they had to cater the full three courses for about 32 guests.
all with the expected accuracy and consistency competition judges look for under competition rules. we were right on hand to see chef raymond inspect each plate. tight ship boy raymond.
and it was no different for the dessert. it was way more intense than we imagined.
but like first class professionals, the team displayed great skill and a lot of technical ability under the extreme conditions.
bringing a level of innovation that made us think that once again, t&t would be going in with a very difficult team to beat.
the end result was a clever menu: the appetizer was a fish trio. poached curry marinated snapper paired with mint/apple chow. deep fried cod fish tempura ochroes served with mango chutney. and pan seared red snapper atop garlic wilted patchoi accompanied by a spiced beet glaze.
the main course was a grilled pesto rubbed lamb loin in a rum enhanced reduction. sweet potato, dasheen and plantain in a roast corn blue cheese sauce served with a vegetable souse and finished with a basil oil drizzle.
but the dessert was our show stopper, mainly because of this channa brittle. a creative take on peanut brittle, using an ingredient that offered some difficulty fitting into the dishes.
it became part of a citrus zabagloine sitting on pumpkin pudding with a nutmeg tuile. Poached coconut meringue on a channa brittle accompanied by a chunky green pawpaw sauce, served with a shot of pineapple mojito at the side.
it was an exciting experience for us and we're sure a valuable learning experience for the team who would need all the practice they can get between now and the competition. our overall review: the menu was very creative with some nice twists that utilized the ingredients effectively. flavors weren't magnificent, but were enjoyable for the most part. however, some of the ground provisions didn't reach a satisfactory degree of tenderness which was the most noticeable inconsistency to us. we think that we've got a strong team with exceptional strength in dessert and beverage. it will be good to see how things progress and what the outcome of the competition will be. check out the video to find out how you can support and be a part of the demonstration dinners.