One of the many great things about the World Food Championships is the fact that professional and amateur cooks come together to compete in one arena and the food is all that matters, not pedigree, not career but the food, only the food.
But one thing the pros had down was the knowledge that there is power in numbers. I didn’t see one professional chef without a team behind them.
I entered the WFC flying solo and while the end result was a happy ending I made it just by the chin of my chinny chin chin and learned a valuable lesson that sometimes you just need a little help from your friends.
During the first round, when I needed my chicken put into the fridge I had to search the crowd for a friendly face (Thank you Linda!!) to take it to the other end of kitchen stadium to put it in the fridge. Ultimately I turned in this sandwich with only 30 seconds left on the clock.
I turned in my structured build grilled cheese sandwich with less than 6 seconds on the clock. If you don’t get your dishes in on time you are disqualified and in fact several people in our category were disqualified for missing the clock and most of those people were flying solo.
Later one of the judges told me that my grilled cheese sandwich tasted awesome but I got virtually zero points for presentation – appropriately so in my opinion.
I did nothing for presentation either round. . .I just didn’t have time. Don’t be deceived into thinking that the amount of time given is a lot of time. The time flies fast.
After the first two rounds, without a sous chef, I was 5th. I felt confident that my food tasted good and the flavors were there but this is the World Food Championships and taste alone will not win it. You need the whole package.
Although in 5th place after the top ten I was only trailing by 1.1 points. Winning this was within my reach but I needed to regroup, or rather create a group for myself. I needed some help in the kitchen. My dear friend Merry (my travel partner and roomie during the WFC) had secured the top spot with her son David as her cooking partner. David’s girl-friend Candice (now fiancé) had joined us for the weekend and offered up her services as my sous chef for the top ten. I was thrilled to have the offer of help and thankfully accepted.
During the top ten round the addition of a sous chef changed the game for me completely. I could focus on attention to detail and make everything perfect for my final plating. I hadn’t met Candice prior but she was positive and happy and there to take on any task I needed and now we are friends for life. (I even helped cook at her engagement party and will be attending her wedding in the fall). Although she had not been involved in the recipe development at all, she quickly grasped a clear understanding of what I wanted and jumped right in to help.
I do remember a moment during the competition when I looked over to see her soon to be fiancé David, and mother in law, Merry, competing at a table behind us and I said to Candice “it’s a good thing you are good people because you could totally sabotage me right now LOL.”
I dare say having a sous chef was the winning difference for me in the top ten. She meticulously picked the stems off my cilantro, painstakingly prepared my presentation platter, and kept a watchful eye on my buns toasting to make sure they were the perfect golden brown. With these added touches my sandwich scored 7 points higher than the next sandwich in that round and catapulted me from 5th to first to win the title of World Sandwich Champion.
While having a sous chef will not guarantee a win at the WFC I will say that all seven cooks at the final table had a support team.
As you prepare for the WFC don’t forget the importance of support and be sure to include a helper in your plans.
Decide ahead of time whether they are your partner sharing all recipe development, costs, and winnings 50/50, or a sous chef who shows up for the competition and helps during the day only. Make these arrangements prior so there is a clear understanding between you.
After I made the final table my amazing friends and fellow competitors who had not made the final table rallied around me and provided amazing help. We were thrown the curve ball of having to do a competitive show piece that represented our category in addition to our final entry for the final table. It was a lot of pressure to get everything in and I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my friends.
A special and heartfelt thanks to my sous chef Candice in the top ten round and my team at the final table, Merry, Laurie, Lori, Suzanne, & Tiffany who stepped into help for the sake of pure friendship. Even though I didn’t win at the final table the moments cooking with my friends and this group of amazing ladies was one of the most special experiences of my life.
So to answer the question “to Sous or not to Sous. . .Definitely Sous!!
Good Luck at the WFC!
For more information on the 2014 World Food Championships visit their website athttp://worldfoodchampionships.com/
Happy Cooking &
Take Time to Enjoy a
Little Gourmet Everyday!!