Thursday, June 18, 2015

Discovered Culinary Competition 2015 Round 1 Semifinals

Here is a quick post on what went down at the Discovered Culinary Competition Round 1 Semifinals on June 1st where I was on the judging panel with Giacomo Pasquini (Executive Chef at Vertical) and Adrian Forte (Chef at The Dirtybird). I was on the judging panel two years ago (see post hereand it feels great to be back!

In its fourth year running, the Discovered Culinary Competition (#discoveredchefs) gives up-and-coming Canadian talents the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills. Competing chefs work against the clock in a high energy, black box competition in front of a live audience and a rotating panel of judges. The competition began on February 23rd at Nella Cucina (@nellacucina) with 14 weeks of preliminary challenges where both winners and runner-ups advanced from the weekly challenges, which resulted in 14 semi-finalists plus two Facebook fan favourites. These 16 semi-finalist then moved on to the second part of the competition composed of four semi-final matches and four finalists. These finalists will then compete on June 30th where one winner will be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Spain for a week-long stage in a Michelin star restaurant.


Each competition begins with four contestants. There are three rounds: Appetizer, Entree and Dessert. Each contestant is provided with a basket of mystery ingredients as well as equipment and a stocked pantry. 

They must prepare a dish using all of the mystery ingredients in the limited amount of time allotted for each round (appetizer = 20 mins, entree = 30 mins, dessert = 20 mins). Dishes are evaluated based on use of the mystery ingredients, creativity, presentation and taste. One contestant is eliminated after each round and the next round starts again with a new mystery box.

Kimchi, Wonton Wrappers, Coconut (from Hilite)

And it begins! Twenty minutes to whip up an appetizer with coconut, kimchi and wonton wrappers. What do you think of this basket? Hard or easy?

Remember, each competitor here has already won their preliminary challenge by beating three other people.

Time's up! Each competitor brings their dish for the judges to taste.

The appetizers:

Me giving the lowdown on each dish.

After deliberation in the backroom, Giacomo, Adrian and I decided that Simon had to go due to mishandling of the coconut. Here's MC Jamie Drummond revealing the eliminated dish.

Miso Paste, Snap Peas (from Hilite), Chicken Drumsticks (from Liberterre), Beef Jerky

Three fierce competitors left. Who will get the blade?

Competitors get 30 minutes for the entree round but I'm sure it feels more like 10 minutes to them.

The entrees:

Giacomo and I digging into Magda's dish.

Due to under-cooked rice, Magda was eliminated from the competition. 

Corn Bread, Kaffir Lime Leaves (from Hilite), Buttermilk, Corn Nuts

Jasper and John going head to head.

With just one dish to go this semifinals is coming down to the wire.

The desserts:

This is it!

In determining the winner, all courses and marks awarded was taken into consideration (not just the dessert). It was a really tough decision but because of John's burnt toast and Jasper's better overall performance, Jasper advances to the June 30th finals. Congrats, Jasper!

Make sure you follow Discovered Culinary Competition and Nella Cucina Culinary School on Facebook for competition updates!

*All photos by Tony Cicero Photography used with permission from Nella Cucina*

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