Thursday 21 October 2010

Royal Ascot!

An amazing day today. A few days after my disappointing attempt at the Chef of the Year competition, I bumped into the organiser, he saw that I was still really gutted as I had put allot of effort into that day (5 months of work in fact!), he asked me where did I think that I slipped up and I was honest and said that I cooked the wrong type of dish and didn't really know what the judges were looking for! He said that it would be good for me to see a competition from a judges point of view, and invited me to 'shadow judge' (basically follow a judge about all day and ask him questions, see what he is looking for, seek advice, etc) at a competition being held at Ascot! How kind of him! So a few weeks later, I slipped on my best shoes and off to Ascot I headed.
It was a really educational experience, being 'the other side of the fence', not feeling all of that pressure, just walking around tasting, tasting, tasting.
I was Shadow judge for the executive head chef of Claridges, he was really help full and full of use full advice, as he judges competitions all the time. I realised how so so so, important the taste of the food is to a judge, they are not to interested in fancy garnishes that take all day to prepare, all they want to see is great technique, flavours and seasoning, I know that this sounds really obvious but when you compete in a competition, you always find yourself concentration on the less important things! I discovered that to a judge, presentation is about 25%, obviously a dish needs to be tidy, and taste is about 75%, most people would think it 50 50! But if you think about it, if a dish looks bad but tastes great, you are more likely to score it higher than if it looks great but tastes terrible! I learned that the judges are looking for the simple things done well, fairly obvious, just competitors tend to loose their heads in the heat of the moment!

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