Chef Cooking Competition
Be prepared for a long day, usually lasting from around 8am until 6pm even some times and late. Cooking times are staggered, with people being called into the main room every 30 to 40 minutes. There will be a lot of waiting around until it’s your turn!
Following the main, your improvisation skills will need to be sharp when it comes to dessert. You’ll be given a random list of ingredients (you have to use every ingredient provided) and have just 10 minutes to plan your dessert, with a further 30-40 minutes to cook. This is to test your knowledge in a high pressured environment, so ensure you are well versed on potential desserts you can create from ingredient combinations.
Tasting and critique is done in private, so you’ll be unable to see the judges’ immediate reactions to tasting – which is a shame if they love your food! The winners are then called out in front of all contestants.
The judges are looking for flair, skill, ability and an understanding of how to prepare food and be sustainable in business.
After the results you are free to leave if you haven’t advanced, although you’re invited to stay to receive feedback. Feedback is optional but certainly worthwhile, why go through that effort to cook for such esteemed chefs and not hear what they have to say?
To advance to the finals you’ll need to write an essay featuring a well-designed recipe: ingredients, method and accurate costing per portion for 4 or sometimes for 10 covers.
What Are The Judges Looking For?
Flair and creativity: Channel your inner Heston Blumenthal by adding pizzazz and style to your dish. How does your food look on the plate? Can you excite where others flatter to deceive? Flambeing food, for example, will help you stand out and convey confidence to the judges.
Ability: Does your food taste good? Is it cooked to perfection? Is the seasoning just right? The ability to make food look appetising on the plate is key.
Understanding of business sustainability: Would you turn a profit serving this on your menu? You can’t ignore the commercial aspect, judges want you to demonstrate cost and a business-savvy approach.
TIP: Be mindful of portion control, it’s not about who has the most on their plate!