The thing with writing about an event is that you have to do it while the details are fresh inside your head. The second cooking competition at the Apicius Culinary School was held late last month, just before everyone embarked on the long undas weekend, and the list of winners, and their recipes, were not sent until more than a week later. During the interval, I had eaten a lot of things, done a lot of reading, taken a lot of photos and the cooking competition experience, the aromas and the flavors, were no longer as fresh in my mind. Plus, there was the timing thing. Good timing is good for blogging if you want to stay current. Thanksgiving was coming up and although we don’t celebrate it in the Philippines, there are turkey recipes, and recipes for turkey leftovers, that I wanted to re-share.
Some things about the day of the second Apicius cooking competition, I still remember very well though. We got stuck in heavy traffic on the way to Apicius and, when we got there, I was surprised to learn that, unlike before, there would be two judges aside from me, and that the plan to include dessert in the competition would not push through. The theme was the same as before, Filipino cooking with a twist, but no dessert. I had to re-wire my brain, so to speak.
What do I mean by re-wire? Well, I take judging a contest seriously. I was told there would a dessert category and I came prepared. Meaning, I read up on desserts, learned the terms and the techniques, and the accepted standards. For instance, crème brûlée may be a classic but what sets a good crème brûlée from the mediocre ones? Just how thick and brown should the caramel be? How soft should the custard be — should it fall off the spoon or not, and can it be as thin as zabaione? Those things… It was a culinary competition, after all, not a matter of what I liked and have been used to. So, it was like turning a switch in my head to re-orient and re-position the stuff inside to focus on main dishes.
Despite the surprise, having two other judges was a great idea. It was more fun. And it does away with the impression that the winners from the first cook-off won because their dishes appealed to my personal taste rather than because they were, from a strict culinary standard, superior than the others. Apparently, there was at least one catty comment from another culinary school that the judging in the previous competition was arbitrary. Well, surprise, surprise — just read the last sentence in this post.
I wish I can provide you with the names and backgrounds of the two other judges but I wasn’t furnished with the information. All I got in the email that came a week after the competition was the list of the three winners and their recipes. I do recall, however, that the lone male judge is a professional chef and teaches in a culinary school (not Apicius) and he didn’t talk much. And I do recall that the other lady judge was a warm, chatty, bubbly and very down-to-earth person.
Sam took the photos in this set (thank you, sweetie). I asked her to so I could focus on the food rather than have my head split between between taking photos, judging the cooking procedures and savoring the food. The last three photos are the ones that won and they are labeled accordingly. As for the other entries, like I said, I wasn’t furnished with the names of the other contestants and the names of their dishes, I can only share photos of their creations. Feast your eyes.
Above, the third prize winner. Sizzling steamed fish with tuyo mayonnaise served with stir fry and rice by Mark Aaron L. Dueñas.
Above, the second place winner, Dickinson G. Lauron’s relleno rolls in rice wrapper served with relleno fried rice with spicy adobo sauce and tomato salad.
And, finally, the first place winner. It’s the same person who won first place in the previous competition, Leo Sarpamones, and his winning dish for the second competition — Leo’s Chicken Vege Volcano.