I feel so bad for taking so long to publish this post, it had been lying in my ‘Draft’ folder for such a long time, it’s not because I had writers block…it was more because I was a little overwhelmed by the 600 photos I took and the thought of having to go through them just gave me a headache :P I’ve told you I’m very lazy ~
Anyhow, a few weeks ago Win Win and I were very lucky to be invited by Leon and Mercury from Ringe Marketing to attend the MLA Black Box Culinary Challenge held at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Hotel. For my lovely readers in Australia, you may have heard of ‘MLA’ which is the ‘Meat & Live Stock Australia Association‘ in the news, they provide producers with the latest news on the industry.
To quickly explain the MLA Black Box Challenge, its been running for 15 years and is basically like a Masterchef black box challenge, where young and aspiring chefs from five-star hotels and culinary schools are given a black box full of ingredients, in which they need to create a full 4 course meal using these ingredients. The MLA Black Box Challenge tours around the world to various locations such as the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and winners from these locations will then compete at the Grand Final held in Hobart this year in May. For more information please visit their website :)
In Hong Kong this year, there were 10 establishments that joined the challenge:
|1. Hong Kong Jockey Club – Derby Restaurant||2. Hong Kong Jockey Club Shatin|
|3. Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel||4. Hong Kong Disney Hollywood Hotel|
|5. Intercontinental Grand Standford Hotel||6. Intercontinental Hong Kong|
|7. Ritz Carlton Hong Kong||8. Café Deco Group|
|9. Hong Kong Culinary Academy||10. Vocational Training Council Hong Kong|
I was trying to take photos of every single team and all the dishes they made, that’s why it took me so long to compile the photos hehe :)
The event was held at the Cinderella Ballroom at the Disneyland Resort Hotel, it was my first time here! Soooooo pretty! It was a long day for the team, who started cooking in the morning and tastings for guests started at 4pm, while the gala dinner that followed started at 7:30pm. I was a little overwhelmed when I saw a camera crew from TVB channel doing a cover of the event :) Hope they didn’t catch Win Win or me on film, how awkward if we saw ourselves on TV :P
They had some pretty impressive judges such as Alan Palmer on the left, who was the head chef of a De Vere Hotel in the UK and a member of World Association of Chefs Societies. The judging process was a serious one, they had a judging room and the judges spent a considerable amount of time deliberating after each dish was sent in for them to taste.
I felt sorry for the young chefs, having to work under such immense pressure and everything was immaculately plated :) They did a great job though most dishes looked great! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try all the dishes as the teams only produced one dish for all guests to try, I think it would have been better if they had produced mini portions for all guests ~
However, Win Win and I got to try the whole 4-course meal by Cafe Deco Group because that was the team catering for our table.
I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but even though we’re Aussie, neither Win Win or I eat lamb lol so I can’t really review this dish. I did try a little piece of the lamb saddle but it was just too gamey for me :P
I really liked how the soup was served ~ I thought we just scooped it out from the cylinder case lol
I’ve always been a fan of mushroom soup, so I really liked the strong mushroom flavour, however, it was a little salty. The texture of the pumpkin cheddar flan was a little weird to me, and I couldn’t really taste the pumpkin flavour. I really liked the broccoli and scallop relish though, nicely cooked and went well with the soup.
The soup was pretty filling, so I was glad that it wasn’t a large piece of ‘steak’, but smaller pieces of wagyu :) It was a little disappointing though, the wagyu was overcooked, even though it looks nice and pink in the photos. It was quite tough and even harder for us to chew. It would have been a much better if the wagyu wasn’t overcooked and there was more seasoning.
I’m sure you all know that I’m a dessert queen :) I never skip dessert ~ but this dessert really confused me. I wasn’t sure what was the main component of this dessert, was it the cream cheese ice-cream or the marshmallow? I liked parts of the desserts such as the ice-cream and the white chocolate and orange mousse. But the marshmallow had a very strange texture like it was too chewy and it was covered in a type of confectionary that burst in your mouths which was weird ~
Sadly, Cafe Deco didn’t win any awards that night, however, it was a good try, I just think they needed to fine tune some parts of their dishes and they may have been able to score an award ~
Now to the highlight of the night! The winners :) *DRUM ROLLS*
The winner of the MLA Black Box Culinary Challenge for Hong Kong 2012 is:
Hong Kong Jockey Club – Derby Restaurant
Appetiser – Lamb with Wild Mushroom and Lamb’s tengue, spiced pineapple and pear chutney, mescium salad and plum sauce dressing
Soup – Pumpkin and Apple Veloute, red wine poached egg, white onion confit and crispy ventreche ham
Main – Shiraz Braised Wagyu Beef, English cottage pie with cheddar potato puree
Dessert – Kirsh scented white chocolate ganache, strawberry sable Breton
In First Place we have:
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Appetiser – Lamb in two ways, roasted with plum sauce, pan-fried with X.O sauce with mixed fruit salad
Soup – Broccoli cream soup with crispy cheddar cheese
Main – Braised Waygu beef topside, mashed pumpkin, stuffed mushrooms with red wine sauce
Dessert – Carrot Cake and marshmallow with carrot ginger ice-cream
In Second Place we have:
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Hotel
Appetiser – Lamb saddle terrine and Asian spice stewed with glazed pineapple, mesclun mix and natural lamb dressing
Soup – Organic pumpkin soup
Main – Slow cooked and braised Wagyu Beef topside with mixed vegetables and veal jus
Dessert – Chocolate mousse cake with sea salt tuile and strawberry sauce
The Best Dessert award goes to the Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel :D
I’m so sorry I didn’t get the name of the dessert and didn’t get the chance to try it *cries* but I know it’s a chocolate mousse cake with some sort of ice-cream ~
Overall, the MLA Black box challenge was intense but also exciting to see the chefs compete with each other. I wish the Hong Kong Jockey Club the very best at the Grand Finals in May and hope they will win many more awards ;)
Would like to say a special thank you to Mercury and Leon for inviting us ~ it was definitely another ‘first time’ experience attending a culinary competition!
Win Win and Daisy @ Nevertooweet attended the MLA Black box challenge as a guest of MLA, Ringe Marketing and Walee Walee.com