Project CHEF Curry Cup 2015
Enthusiasm and competition was definitely in the air this morning when I was invited to join Project CHEF as a guest judge for their inaugural Curry Cup Competition. It was held at Laura Secord Elementary in Vancouver, where Project CHEF is currently doing their residency till the end of the school year. The grades 6s and 7s were extremely excited when they had asked Chef Barb Finely if they could be apart of a cooking competition. It’s not usually a part of the Project CHEF curriculum, but being as amazing as she is, Chef Barb did all the organizing and planning to make this special day come to life. She received inspiration from The Chefs Table Society of Vancouver as they annually host a Curry Cup Competition in Vancouver, which is open to local restaurants to compete in.
In attendance as guest judges were myself, Chef Scott Jaeger of the Pear Tree in Burnaby and Chef Danny Markowicz of White Spot. We assembled at the school at 9:30am and the students were split into 12 groups of 4-5 per team. The judging criteria consisted of 6 categories ranging from presentation, taste, organization, cleanliness, pre preparation planning and whether the chosen recipe would be suitable to be added to the Project CHEF curriculum. As judges, we observed the teams and how they worked together along with whether they worked organized and cleanly. The teams were responsible for doing research on curries and recipes before the day of the competition and they were also responsible for handing in the recipe and ingredients lists to Chef Barb prior to today.
The teams had 1 hour to prep and cook their curry recipe as well as plate it for presentation and judging. Around 10am the lunchroom of Laura Secord Elementary was full of delicious smells of curries cooking! Cooking came to a stop around 10:30am and the teams were in full swing of cleaning and doing their dishes. I was so impressed at how efficient the teams were at cleaning their stations and equipment. The lunchroom was ready for judging and plating at 11am.
All teams did a fantastic job at presentation and I was more than impressed at how these students had done such a great job at research prior to the competition as well as how some of the teams were able to develop rich depth in flavor in their 1 hour curries. After tasting all of the 12 curries, the other judges and myself tallied our score sheets and deliberated on who the winner of the Curry Cup should be. We decided unanimously that the winner was team 4. We all enjoyed the teams organization and teamwork during the competition, which made them stand out. The flavors in the winning curry were memorable, as the team described it as being a South African Curry, which isn’t as spicy as other ethnic curries. I personally really enjoyed the wonderful textures in the curry with the addition of the chick peas, green peas, carrots and green beans. The warm flavors of cinnamon and cloves also made this curry one of my top 3 of the competition.
The winning curry will be incorporated into Project CHEFs curriculum as part of the winning prize as it stood out in all judged categories and also met the criteria for a curry recipe that would most appeal to a wide audience and be suitable for other students to make within a Project CHEF class. After a ceremony of announcing the winner of the Project CHEF Curry Cup 2015 as well as making honorable mentions to the other teams who stood out for outstanding flavor, presentation or team work, Chef Scott Jaeger presented Chef Barb with a $2000.00 cheque from the Chefs Table Society to Project Chef. I had a great time as a guest judge and would like to thank Project CHEF staff and Chef Barb for having me share in such a wonderful experience for the students! I am extremely glad that Alligga and Project have recently partnered together with Alligga being a sponsor and supplying our Flaxseed Cooking Oil to the this fantastic program!!! Healthy eating starts with enabling our young students with love and passion for cooking and eating whole foods.
– Alana Peckham
Alligga Corporate Chef