Junior chefs gear up for battle royal in the kitchen

Four chefs will cross recipes today to win cash and accolades. (SUPPLIED)

Things are set to heat up in the kitchen for four of Dubai's junior chefs today as they cross recipes to win cash and accolades.

In the country's first Anchor MasterChef contest, teams from Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel and the Westin Mina Seyahi will each cook three dishes from a basket of mystery ingredients in under four hours. Edward Mair and Jay Williams from Westin Mina Seyahi compete against Demas Tri Saputra Latief and Dharshana Yatiwawala from Emirates Towers.

All week, 11 teams from the city's five-star hotels have been tasting, basting, toasting and roasting all manner of ingredients from prime rib to quails, said Peter Hallmanns, Advisory Chef for Fonterra brands. The company runs similar contests in Australia and Asia, but nothing at this level, he said.

"Dubai is now one of the world's food capitals and cooking here is as competitive as anywhere else and the standard is very high," he told Emirates Business yesterday. "We wanted to give today's young chefs a chance to pit themselves against each other."

In the first round, the teams, each comprising one hot kitchen chef and one pastry chef, cooked a three-course meal of their own choosing within a timeframe of three hours.

While competition has been fierce, yesterday's semi-final was particularly tough, Hallmanns said. Among the surprise ingredients was quail, which had to feature on the menus, prime rib, shery fish, fresh clams and an array of vegetables.

"Quail can be a difficult bird to cook, it overcooks and dries out easily," he said, "so that was quite the test."

The teams were judged on presentation, innovation, taste and texture, as well as on their cooking styles, hygiene and kitchen behaviour. While Emirates Towers team delighted with their cream cheese desert trio, the Westin team won the day's round on points with their molecular gastronomy approach and a chocolate deconstruction that featured the endorphin-booster in a variety of forms.

"There were so many points for innovation that it would have been a shame not to push our limits," said the Westin's Williams.

Today, the teams also face a mystery basket, Hallmans said.

 

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