hungry for challenge – culinary competitions special
Prepare for Success by the Egyptian Chefs Association
Chefs who intend to compete at culinary arts competitions should prepare themselves thoroughly before competing. To improve your level, more practice and training is needed. We give you some tools and guidelines on how you can prepare yourself to achieve better results. In considering whether or not to participate, one of the first steps to take is to ask yourself if you are willing to invest the time and dedicate the effort needed to prepare yourself for a competition. You will need to practice and practice over and over again to reach perfection. The time you need to practice should be outside your working hours, as competition training should not interfere with your work. The first step you can take is to contact your colleagues who competed with success before and who could be of a great assistance to you. There are many chefs who achieved medals at previous competitions who can be your mentors and assist you in improving your plates. They are often more than willing to share their knowledge and skills and would be glad to assist and teach others, so call them and ask for their advice. You can also contact your national chef ’s association to find out who are the talented chefs in your country that might be able to assist you. Before you invest time in cooking, glazing and composing plates it is advisable to purchase some books and CDs to familiarise yourself with what the judges are looking for in culinary arts displays. Variety in your plates should show your slicing and cutting skills and your mastery of cooking methods. So the use of moulds should be avoided at all times. Also, mastery of cooking skills means you are able to show the use of various cooking methods in your plates such as broiling, poaching, roasting, baking, grilling and steaming, among others; there are 18 cooking methods in total that a professional chef should master. Balance and harmony in your plate is essential, from nutrients and colours, to textures and shapes. Before you even touch foods or start cooking you should think of the plate you want to create. Make a drawing and analyse the balance and variety of nutrients, colours, textures and so on. This method will save you time and avoid food waste. Once you have composed on paper the plate that gives you the right balance and shows a variety of cooking methods, it is time to cook your dish. The plate, once cooked might still need some adjustments. When the plate looks and tastes to your liking and is practical to serve as an à la carte dish in a restaurant, only then is it time to start working with aspic. You will have to cook again, apply aspic and plate the food. At this stage you should be close to what you really are going to exhibit and only small adjustments should be needed to perfect your display. At each culinary arts competition the judges often see the same mistakes over and over again. We have listed the commonly made mistakes. Please review the contents of the table to avoid unnecessary mishaps that have occurred before. 24 World Association of Chefs Societies
10 tips and common mistakes in Hot Table competitions Gert Klotzke
Member of WACS Culinary Competition Committee. Owner of Gastronomi AB, Sweden.
1. Competitor has not read the rules properly. The basic rules is to know what you will be judged on and what the judges will be looking out for. 2. Make sure to use correct menu language and professional terms. Using wrong terms shows a of lack of professionalism and respect to your craft. 3. Do not use complicated techniques that do not serve any purpose. Plates should be practical to implement in any restaurant as an à la carte dish. The more items there are on a plate, the more time it takes to dress the plate thus risking that food turns cold before it is served. 4. Too many different flavours on the same plate. Do not overkill the plate with putting too many flavours together that confuse the palate. 5. The main ingredient’s taste should dominate the plate Garnish should support and enforce the main ingredient, not dominate it 6. Make sure to use different textures and techniques. By using different cooking methods, textures, colours and shapes on different plates and preparations you can add up to 30 points on your scorecard. 7. Everything on the plate should be edible. Avoid using garnishes that have no function as they only cause food waste. 8. A menu should have a progressive intensity in taste. Avoid using intense flavours before subtle flavours. 9. Make training sessions as close as possible to competition environment. Real life training sessions will allow you to detect and improve critical points and better prepare for D-day. 10. Document all training sessions in writing and in images for later reference.This will allow you to draw as mush learning from each training sessions and use the experience later.