Culinary Competition – MLA Black Box Challenge

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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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 Marketingย 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.

MLA Black Box Ingredients ~

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

In Hong Kong this year, there were 10 establishments that joined the challenge:

1. Hong Kong Jockey Club โ€“ 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. Cafรฉ Deco Group
9. Hong Kong Culinary Academy 10.ย  Vocational Training Council Hong Kong

I was trying to take ย photos of every single team and all the dishes they made, that’s why it took me so long to compile the photos hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

Cinderella Ballroom so pretty!

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 channelย doing a cover of the event ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope they didn’t catch Win Win or me on film, how awkward if we saw ourselves on TV ๐Ÿ˜›

The judges ~

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 aย 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.

Working very hard ~

I felt sorry for the young chefs, having to work under such immense pressure and everything was immaculately plated ๐Ÿ™‚ They did a great job though most dishes looked great!ย 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 Groupย because that was the team catering for our table.

Appetiser - Basil crushed lamb saddle and lamb jus terrine, shaved broccoli, apple jam and mesclun greens

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

I really liked how the soup was served ~ I thought we just scooped it out from the cylinder case lol

Liked how it was served ~

Soup - Wild mushroom soup with pumpkin cheddar flan, broccoli and scallop relish

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.

Main - Plum sauce marinated wagyu beef topside coated with mix berries, carrot puree, choy sum, pickled pear and veal jus cream

The soup was pretty filling, so I was glad that it wasn’t a large piece of ‘steak’, but smaller pieces of wagyu ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Dessert - White chocolate and orange mousse, cream cheese ice-cream, cranberry dark chocolate marshmallow, strawberry chips, pineapple sauce

I’m sure you all know that I’m a dessert queen ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 burstย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ *DRUM ROLLS*

The winner of the MLA Black Box Culinary Challenge for Hong Kong 2012 is:
Hong Kong Jockey Club – ย Derby Restaurant

Winner ๐Ÿ™‚

Appetiser – Lamb with Wild Mushroom and Lambโ€™s tengue, spiced pineapple and pear chutney, mescium salad and plum sauce dressing
Soup โ€“ Pumpkin and Apple Veloute, red wine poached egg, white onion confit and crispy ventreche ham
Main โ€“ Shiraz Braised Wagyu Beef, English cottage pie with cheddar potato puree
Dessert โ€“ Kirsh scented white chocolate ganache, strawberry sable Breton

In First Placeย we have:
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

In First Place ๐Ÿ™‚

Appetiser โ€“ Lamb in two ways, roasted with plum sauce, pan-fried with X.O sauce with mixed fruit salad
Soup โ€“ Broccoli cream soup with crispy cheddar cheese
Main โ€“ Braised Waygu beef topside, mashed pumpkin, stuffed mushrooms with red wine sauce
Dessert โ€“ Carrot Cake and marshmallow with carrot ginger ice-cream

In Second Place we have:
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Hotelย 

In Second Place ๐Ÿ™‚

Appetiser โ€“ Lamb saddle terrine and Asian spice stewed with glazed pineapple, mesclun mix and natural lamb dressing
Soup โ€“ Organic pumpkin soup
Main โ€“ Slow cooked and braised Wagyu Beef topside with mixed vegetables and veal jus
Dessert โ€“ Chocolate mousse cake with sea salt tuile and strawberry sauce

The Best Dessert award goes to theย Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotelย ๐Ÿ˜€

Best Dessert of the challenge ~

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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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



27 thoughts on “Culinary Competition – MLA Black Box Challenge

  1. Rice Bowl Tales February 29, 2012 at 12:50 am Reply

    Daisy, it sounds so much fun to be taking part and witnessing such an wonderful culinary event, but I’m sure tasting the dishes is the easier part, reporting and writing it takes took and organizing! You have done such an amazing job though. As always, reading your blog put a smile on my face, thank you ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 12:59 am Reply

      Hello Jane ๐Ÿ˜€ thank you for the lovely comment! You are alway so supportive of me! Yet i’m still such a newbie at blogging ~ I totally agree the tasting is the easy bit! The photo taking and editing, and omg writing lol this post took me at least 6 hours in total just to write, edit, write, edit and then finally publish ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Rice Bowl Tales February 29, 2012 at 12:52 am Reply

    * took time * ~ haha

  3. Cupcake Crazy Gem February 29, 2012 at 7:31 am Reply

    Wow you were so lucky to be invited to this! All of the food looked completely amazing, and I had no idea there was a Disneyland in HK! I especially liked the sound of the pineapple sauce and the winning dessert did look really attractive! I gave you an award on my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm Reply

      Thank you very much Gem for the Liebster award!!! The food was great but unfortunately I didn’t get to try the best dessert ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      There’s a Disneyland in HK but it’s the smallest in the world hehe I’d love to visit the Disneyland over in Florida ~

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 29, 2012 at 9:55 am Reply

    What a fascinating event! And in the Cinderella ball room no less! Did you see yourself on tv? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm Reply

      Not yet Lorraine ~ The show doesn’t air until sometime in May ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a little worried though I really don’t want to be on TV lol

  5. Liz February 29, 2012 at 10:49 am Reply

    Lucky you!!! What a fun event to attend! Thanks for stopping by my blog today ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm Reply

      It was a great event ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for coming back to mine ~ You have some amazing recipes on your blog!

  6. Mercury February 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm Reply

    I love you so much daisy!!

    The passafge is very detailed and thanks so much for that.

    I am really happy to meet you i such a event and would like to be a good friend of you.!! ^ ^


    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm Reply

      Thank you Mercury for inviting me ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a wonderful time!
      I’m sorry for taking so long to post this.

      Lovely to meet you and we should definitely meet up again before I leave ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Mercury February 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm Reply

    I( forwarded to MLA side, cafe deco gp, derby R & B, RITZ Carlton & also Disneyland also..haahha/.

    A very detailed one~!!

  8. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes February 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Such a fun event in such a fun location. Sign me up next time!

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm Reply

      You should definitely come over to Hobart for the grand finals Barbara ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hotly Spiced February 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm Reply

    What incredible looking food. Those desserts are like works of art. I’m glad no one’s asked me to do a black box challenge. I’d go to pieces. How stressful! How lucky you are to have been there and been able see all that was created.

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm Reply

      I know what you mean Charlie! I can never ‘create’ my own recipe hehe i always need to follow a recipe to a T ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’d love to go to the Grand Finals in Hobart too ~ But not sure If i can make the trip hehe

  10. beti February 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm Reply

    they really are artists, all the food looks too pretty to eat

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm Reply

      I know! All the food was so so so pretty! Especially the desserts ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Yingying Xue February 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm Reply


  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook March 1, 2012 at 5:11 am Reply

    Wow! This is such a fun event to attend! I’ve never attend any food event… It’ll be hard to stop drooling. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great pictures of all the fancy food!

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet March 1, 2012 at 5:26 am Reply

      It was an amazing experience Nami ๐Ÿ™‚ It was my first time going to a culinary competition ~ Thank you! I’m still working on my photography skills I find it really hard when there’s bad light ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  13. Faith March 1, 2012 at 6:28 am Reply

    Sounds like it was such a fun event, Daisy! I love that it was held at Disneyland, how fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love how all the food was presented, even if it wasn’t the best flavor-wise. Thanks for your honest opinion!

  14. Angie@Angie's Recipes March 2, 2012 at 12:51 am Reply

    What a cool experience! I noticed there are lots of gourmet desserts…and wagyu beef..marvelous!

  15. nayhtet win February 13, 2014 at 1:44 am Reply

    this is amazing great <::

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