The Discovered Culinary Competition is wending its way to the final runway, with the 12th-round winner being crowned this week, and the finals poised to take centre stage in early March.
The Discovered Culinary Competition is a four-month search for the best of Canada’s emerging culinary stars. The contest is a creative one that pits rival chefs against one another in a bid to earn bragging rights and the stunning opportunity to train at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in sunny Spain.
Sponsored by Discover, Nella Cucina and the CRFA (Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association) Show, the competition began on November 21 and has run every Monday since. The challenge revolves around a mystery box, the contents of which comprise the sole ingredients from which four competing chefs must devise an appetizer, entrée and dessert. And do so inside the constraints of a ticking clock and before the unnerving presence of a celebrity-studded judging panel.
Most recently, Andres Salomon, head chef at Toronto’s Cowbell restaurant, secured the 12th round berth. Salomon produced three inspired concoctions with the fruits of his food boxes. They were: bagel chips, caperberries, smoked salmon and French’s sweet onion mustard for the appetizer round; extra lean ground pork sirloin, lean ground chuck, fresh dill and mascarpone for the entrée round; and blueberry preserves, kefir yogurt, lemongrass and lemons for the dessert round.
Chef Salomon’s transformations were tasty and swift: He made a sour cream and mustard soup topped with smoked salmon, sliced caperberries and crumbled bagel chips as a starter. For the main course, he combined the meats with a whack of spices to make a chorizo sausage that he served with a red pepper puree, roast potatoes and whipped mascarpone with dill. His dessert was a kefir and lemon crepe filled with blueberry preserves and served with lemongrass syrup.
With a one-week trip to northern Spain to study with world-renowned chef Nacho Manzano in the balance, the four semifinalists from the Monday showdowns will face off at the CRFA Show, at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto, on March 6.