In late May my cousin and I starting plannig an Iron Chef Competition within our group of friends. We have a group of about 15 of us. But a few of them couldn't make it on the date which we decided on.
3 - 6:30 pm - prepping and cooking time
6:30 pm - judging
7:30 pm - dinner
The secret ingredient was lamb. We picked the secret ingredient a few weeks prior because I knew the teams needed the time to prep and plan. None of us are professional chefs. We need almost double the time (or more) to prep and cook.The teams were allowed to marinate the meat the night before.
The teams had to make one appetizer and one entree in the three and a half hours. Each team had a $100 budget. With that $100, each team had to make 10 portions of food; 7 portions for each team member and 3 portions for the judges.
The judging took place in my upstairs kitchen. Everyone gathered in the upstairs living room to listen to the results and ate dinner.
We decided to have two teams of 6 members. It was my team and my cousin's team. We were the team leaders. My team used my kitchen. My cousin`s team used her kitchen. We are neighbours in the same house. We randomly picked our team members. We put everyone`s name in a bowl. Then we started picking one name at a time.
The final result:
(Anne Marie's friend was supposed to come but didn't end up coming.)
We had a meeting a few days prior to the Iron Chef to plan out our dishes. There are gazillion recipes for lamb on the internet. We had a hard time deciding what to choose. Some of us were on our laptops and phones to surf the internet to see what we can find. A few of our team members found pictures of lamb dishes without recipes. That's what started the ball rolling.
There were so many aspects to consider when cooking and plating the dishes. The cooking we couldn't prepare ahead of time. We just did it on the day of Iron Chef. With the plating, there was some pre planning. We had to think about the colors of the food, the height of the food and the contrasting flavours.
The picture we found didn't have a recipe. It said it is made with lamb in the inside with chicken mousse in the middle and then wrapped with spinach. We didn't know how to make the chicken mousse and thought it would be too difficult to learn by the end of the week. Geoffrey suggested we use egg for the middle layer instead of the chicken mousse. Egg would be easier to work with. Because we didn't have the recipes to work with, we had to do a lot of experimenting. We used an onion sauce as a dip for the sushi.
It was 545pm and we were still trying to make the sushi. Six pm rolled around and two of the judges arrived. I kept the judges company upstairs. While I was talking to the judges, my team continued to work on the two dishes and plated it.
The judges thought it was original but it needed a bit more flavouring. They wanted chopsticks because it was a 'sushi' and expected it to be served with soya sauce and ginger.
I thought it would be a good idea to make a roll. It would have some flavouring inside and we made a sauce for the outside. Inside the roll was toasted pecans with honey. On top of the roulade was apricot sauce. It was served with yam puree and beans wrapped in bacon.
The judges thought the lamb was still too gamy. They really enjoyed the yam puree and the bacon wrapped green beans.
Team Annie's Dishes
Our team had no idea what Team Annie's dishes would be. We tried to poke and probe the team members on what they would be cooking and they wouldn't budge. Even the day of Iron Chef, we tried to peek into their kitchen to see what was brewing in their kitchen. The recipes on both teams were top secret until the day of Iron Chef.
Their appetizer was Deep Fried Lamb Wonton with Mango Chutney and Apricot Sauce. It was served on top of a bed of deep fried noodles. I was very impressed. I didn't think that wontons were that easy to make. I liked their plating. It was round'ish wontons on a square plate. It had a variety of different colors but not too many.
Their entree was a Braised Lamb Shank Stew with Raisin Quinoa and Herb Chips. Their lamb was really well done. I am not a big fan of quinoa but I thought it was a good combination. The quinoa soaked the stew to make the stew less salty. The judges liked it because it wasn't gamy.
Only three portions had to be plated for the judges. The rest of the food was on platters for everyone to share. We brought the food upstairs and had it buffet style. When the judges were deliberating, we started eating our food.
I didn't know who to pick as the judges. I ended up picking some of my friends. I had to have an odd number of judges (to be a tie breaker). I thought 3 portions would be appropriate for the judges. They just needed to taste the food, not necessarily have a full portion. After the judging, the judges joined us for dinner.
For Annie's team, she ended up with 7 team members. I ended up with 6 team members. Since she had one more member, I thought we can make that extra member a judge. We then put all her team members in a hat. This way we found Vaughn as judge. Vaughn had one portion to himself.
Vanessa and Anthony
A married couple. I met Anthony years ago at one of my dinners. He is a foodie. He really enjoys to eat and cook. I thought it would be fun to have both of them be judges. Vanessa became the judge spokesperson. They had to share one portion of food.
Warren and Christine
Warren is a good friend of mine. He just got married to Christine. I thought it would be more fun if both of them were judges. They had to share one portion of food.
I had asked the judges to bring some drinks or desserts. Vaughn, Warren and Christine brought some pop and juice. Vanessa and Anthony brought a strawberry pie right from Kraus Farms. It was delicous!
The Results / Aftermath
After all the prepping and cooking and plating, we wanted to see which team made the better dishes. Team Annie won. The judges like the braised lamb shank. There was no award or metal presentation. The winning team won bragging rights.
I am very lucky that this group is really good with cleaning up. Once we were done, everyone chipped in to help clean up. The next day I only had a little bit of cleaning up to do.