This challenge was totally vegetarian…weird I must say for a meat loving nation. However with the ingredients at hand we had to put our imaginations to task.
The theme today was, “healthy eating, cooking for a vegetarian”. We had fourteen ingredients to represent the fourteen contestants we started with and were to make a three-course vegetarian meal in fifty minutes. Out of the first six ingredients, we were to use a different two for each course while we were to use the remaining eight ingredients in any way we wanted. The star ingredient was the bitter gourd (a vegetable good for diabetics) and the greatest challenge was to manage its bitterness.
- Bitter gourd/melon (Carilla)
- Pawpaw (papaya)
- Green pepper
- Marrow zucchini
Dixon came first, I came second and Ojo came third; landing us cash prizes of twenty thousand, ten thousand and five thousand naira respectively.
Dixon made the following:
Starter: a sweet and tart salad using the carilla . The judges loved how she transformed the bitterness of the carilla.
Entrée: a lentil and cocoyam soup. The judges liked that she boiled her cocoyam and broke it into pieces and the pinkish hue made it to look like chicken.
Dessert: Papaya crumble, this was the star. They absolutely loved it because she used her oats, corn flour, margarine, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to make a crunchy crumble topping for the papaya.
I, Nwando made the following:
Starter: Cocoyam chips, crispy fried mushroom (mushroom dipped in egg, rolled in oats then fried) and cucumber crudités served with ketchup dip! The judges absolutely hated the idea of ketchup as a dip as it had not been transformed in any way.
Entrée: I served a main of lentil gumbo to which I added the carilla at the end to prevent bitter infusion/leaching. Surprisingly enough the judges liked the carilla that way. Wow! I fluked it and it turned out right, thank God.
Dessert: A very creamy papaya and cheddar fool garnished with a swirl of honey and crushed cashew nuts.
Ojo made for the judges:
Starter: mushroom soup, this the judges loved.
Entrée: a lasagne-like cocoyam dish in which he alternated layers of mashed cocoyam with stir-fried vegetables and cheese.
Dessert: papaya salad sprinkled with sugar; the judges didn’t like this because they felt it was too simple.
At the end of the day however, Victor was chopped because he had not transformed the ingredients given adequately and his dessert was more of a vegetable salad rather than a sweet.
- For fine dining, serving ketchup as a dip is a no-no! If you are going to use ketchup, use it instead as a condiment to cook the meal.
- When cooking some type of vegetarian meals, mimicking meat is a good idea. For example the judges liked that Chinelo used her lentils to make a patties that resembled beef burger. Also that Dixon’s cocoyam resembled chicken.
- Don’t over-garnish your food and make sure your garnish is edible.
- Transform your ingredients well don’t just slap them on the plate.
- Work with cooking techniques taught during the training.
- Listen to and follow instructions.
- Always make sure your food is tasty.