Thank you to Respublica for granting me the opportunity to be a judge at the battle of the chef’s competition. The event was held on the 22nd of September in Bloemfontein, Free State.
Thank you to the Respublica team for their hospitality. The team really made my fellow judges and I feel welcome, we also appreciate the food, refreshments and gifts that were prepared for us.
I was really excited to be judging alongside two beautiful young ladies; Matubatsi Mokoena and Tsibo London.
Matubatsi has a Bachelors degree in Hospitality Management and is currently a group trainer for Vineyard hotel in Cape Town, she is passionate about food and all things tasty. Tsibo is a blogger who explores different facets of Bloemfontein through music, art and food. She is also a musician and aspiring chef.
The competition proceeded as follows; there were 3 rounds and in each round the contestants/ chefs were given a basket with mystery ingredients. All of the mystery ingredients had to be incorporated into the final dishes that would be presented to the judges. There were 8 teams in total, each team had 2 chefs.
The criteria the chefs were judged on were originality & creativity, cooking techniques and flavour profile. As well as recipe, ingredients, presentation, teamwork and theme.
For the first round (the main entrance), was themed international lunch and the chefs were given 40 minutes to complete the challenge. The mystery ingredients were:
This was a very interesting round because it allowed us as judges to see what knowledge the chefs have about international cuisine. The chefs presented us with dishes that were inspired by France, Italy, Netherlands and Mozambique. Some chefs really stepped out of the box and gave us exciting dishes such as mini pizzas, creamy barley dessert and fully loaded French toast. The one ingredient that most of the chefs struggled with was the barley. They did not know what it was and they did not know how to cook the barley, this resulted in some of the chefs not knowing how to incorporate the barley into their final dish. Unfortunately in this round we had to eliminate 4 teams, which left us with 4 teams for the next round.
The second round (knockout the competition), was themed West African dinner and the chefs were given 40 minutes to complete the challenge. The mystery ingredients were:
This was a relatively easy round for the chefs, the ingredients screamed jollof rice (jollof rice is a one pot rice dish that is very popular in west african countries.) and that is what the chefs prepared for us. I really enjoyed the food that was prepared in this round, some of the chefs keep the food very simple and I think that was key in this round, to keep the food authentic and traditional. On the other hand, some of the chefs went a little overboard with the food, they prepared too many dishes that did not pair so well with one another. Unfortunately we had to eliminate 2 teams in this round.
Of course in any competition there is always a slight twist to things. In this round there was a tie between two teams, so as judges we decided to create a tie breaker, just to make the competition a little bit interesting. We decided to give the teams 5 minutes to create a dish with any leftover ingredients that they had in their kitchens. The criteria that we judged the two dishes on was creativity, taste and why they created the dish. After our deliberation we were left with 2 teams for the final round.
The third and final round (give it all you got), was themed Southern Africa (#UpSize). The chefs were given 40 minutes to complete the challenge. The mystery ingredients were:
This round was the biggest challenge for the chefs, they had to up size and prepare food for about 60 people. What challenged the chefs even further was that they had to work with 5 extra people in the kitchen, so they had to keep the kitchen under control and give instructions to the new cooks in the kitchen. This was a very stressful round for the chefs, but they were very smart to prepare South African dishes that they cook or ate very often. Both teams chose a braai theme to their food. The chefs presented us with dishes such chakalaka, fat cakes, garlic bread and soft porridge.
Congratulations to Sthembiso and Tsakani (Urban Knights) who are the winners of the battle of the chefs 2018. You are deserving winners as your food was absolutely amazing in each round. You kept your food very simple, yet it was tasty and flavoursome.
Well done to all the chefs who participated in the battle, you all should be proud of yourselves, for the amazing food you prepared and all of your hard work.
Ps: Challenges groom us into better people, so never stop challenging yourself.