And then comes the day, and you sort of fall short. I mean, there's always that chance you're not going to win a competition. But you don't want to think about that too much--you just want to savor that time of possibility. You get so emotionally involved in the preparation and the selection of flavours. You add things and you take things away, you try the dish out a hundred times on your friends and loved ones. Ahh--in the mind it all becomes too serious! Whether you want it to or not.
I admit to making a bee line to have a little taste of red wine at the Good Food and Wine Show in Brisbane on the weekend. The man behind the stall gave me an inch of something in my glass, and it was enough to shake off the nervous tension I was feeling.
Then I made another beeline towards The Chopping Block Stand, after watching Toby Puttock paring a chicken.
I had to remind myself to breathe and passed into the backroom to prepare for the Gourmet Garden's Cook Off that we had all so keenly anticipated. I was immediately met by a warm smile of Amanda from the very humorous foodie blog Cooker and a Looker. Amanda is a relatively new foodie blogger and has a great story to go along with her awesome blog name. I wont spoil her story by putting it in my own words, but here she tells it so well. And it's true by the way, she's both a cooker and a looker! The judges agreed, and called us "the glamorous ones". Aw shucks!
I shook her hand and met some other lovely ladies from Gourmet Garden's. Then when I was about to get stuck into peeling potatoes, Amanda offered me some she had peeled herself, as she had extras.
I have to mention here that Amanda is the first foodie blogger I have ever met. I was so pleasantly surprised--I have heard so many horrifying stories about blogging mums having wars with each other, competing, belittling each other, pushing each other down to bring themselves up. It was one reason I was a little hesitant to meet anyone who might feel the need to compete. We really were going to compete--and here she was, handing me peeled potatoes for my dish.
|Getting ready to start, and working out how to use the appliances...(I'm third from the left, Amanda is fourth!)|
And then it began, with celebrity chefs Skye Craig and Dominique Rizzo as judges. We had both brought our cheer squads, they sat in-front of us looking intently as we moved from chopping board to stove top and busily worked our way to completing our dishes. We only had 30 minutes from beginning to finish. I felt pretty relaxed, and I knew I could cruise, as most of the time I was simply waiting for my salmon to cook and the potatoes to boil. The judges kept buzzing about our faces with the mic and quizzing us, questioning temperatures and ingredient choices. The last few minutes were a panicked rush as I quickly tried to plate up the dish and lost my salmon steak, which slid from the egg flip onto the bench. I managed to save it and put it together just in time.
We stood back--the creations were plated.
Amanda had cooked up a lovely crispy skinned Trout with green beans, herbed wedges and herbed butter on the side. I had put together a decorative bed of baby spinach, topped with half a red capsicum, stuffed with cheesy mashed potato--upon which sat a salmon steak drizzled with creamy mushroom sauce.
When they came back to the Chopping Block Stand and they started talking about my dish first, I knew who the winner was. Ohh! I felt myself nodding, nodding as I listened to my dish get bumped.
There were some criticisms. In a nutshell I should have roasted my capsicum, and put more flavour into the dish. There were a few nice things said too, but Amanda's trout was not to be trumped. They had an excellent report for Amanda's dish--it certainly was packed with good wholesome flavours and so wonderfully herby. Every bite was an explosion to the taste buds (as I soon discovered when we sat down together an tasted each others dishes.) Amanda was the winner! I am really happy for her and she certainly deserved it. She will be heading off to the Sunshine Coast with the other lucky cook off winners in May for some Gourmet Garden fun.
Then we both got interviewed about how we felt about the outcome, and Amanda was so darling and all she talked about was my blog. Of course I commented on how delicious her meal was and we both showed off mutilated, picked-at meals to the camera. Such great presentation! (Does anyone else find pictures of half eaten meals sort of yucky?)
I was fine with not winning, I always knew that was probably going to be the outcome of the day. You get gut feelings sometimes just before something happens.
Then after a while, a huge rush of emotion came over me. It was overwhelming in a way, and strangely anti-climatic at the same time. It sort of happened when people started saying nice things to me I think, almost consoling. It confirmed that I should be feeling something I didn't want to. Then I cracked a little and got teary. I couldn't believe it was going this way, and I was so embarrassed but I couldn't help it. After all the build up to this day, there was a rush of relief, a little disappointment in myself and a whole swag of other weird feelings tossed in there--hungry, tired, embarrassed, relived, exhausted ad surprised at myself. I swear Amanda must have wished herself away at that instant. The photographer wanted more photos. I wanted to sink into the floor.
Anyway, I walked away with a range of lovely Gourmet Garden goodies and a great experience, and met my first foodie blogger ever, and a very gracious one at that. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures with her or Dominique and Skye, as my camera battery had died half was through the cook off. My darling husband took some photos, all of me though (he had eyes only for me I'm guessing). I'm hoping to see some more up on the Gourmet Garden website soon (hopefully none of me with red eyes). And I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of what those bloggers get up to on the coast for the Gourmet Garden convention--keep me posted ladies and I will live vicariously through you all! Don't forget to pop over and have a look at the winner's blog Cooker and a Looker! Amanda has some great and very interesting recipes, including savoury macaroons!
|We had fun on behind that bench.|
|I think I almost swallowed the mic at one stage...my head kept moving backwards and Rizzo kept moving it closer!|
|I like to think I was the runner up hehe|
Amanda from Cooker and A Looker was kind enough to pass along her own photos of the day, which are much better. Thanks Amanda!