Welcome back, gourmets and gourmands! Week Ten of the Cook-Off produced some shocks, some surprises, some grumbles – and yet another win for Kunalan! The Master Chef is sitting pretty at the top of the table with a 5 – 0 win/loss record, 15 points, and a six point lead over the group at equal 2nd.
Your food editor asked Kunalan what he saw as the secret of his runaway success.
“I do my research and figure out what this audience is looking for, what is going to meet their objectives of enjoying a tasty meal. I leave it to you to figure out what the gustatory messaging is, but you’ll have to admit the strategy seems to be working.” – Kunalan
“It’s all about excellence in client service,” he replied. “I see the other participants not as competitors but as clients, people who are willing to give their time to taste my cooking.
“I do my research and figure out what this audience is looking for, what is going to meet their objectives of enjoying a tasty meal. I leave it to you to figure out what the gustatory messaging is, but you’ll have to admit the strategy seems to be working.”
This can’t be denied. Kunalan’s offering was a full-on nasi lemak, with fluffy rice cooked in coconut milk, crisp fried chicken, cooling cucumber slices, and prawns in an industrial strength sambal. Your editor strenuously rejects any rumours that this spread was actually purchased the day before at a rest stop on the North South Highway.
Kunalan’s competitor for Week Ten was Francis, whose subtle pork in mustard leaves didn’t stand a chance. Once again, Francis stuck to his principles of offering the most refined Chinese dishes, but he was faced by the juggernaut. Keep coming back, Francis, don’t lose heart!
Match Two saw Nolan’s tuna cutlets defeat Joy’s beef on lettuce leaves. A curious result, as several judges felt that Nolan did not live up to his own high standards this time, while Joy excelled herself with her dish of tender beef slices displayed on a bed of crisp lettuce. Only one point separated these two contestants, but the result sadly leaves Joy still propping up the table and Nolan firmly ensconced in the chasing pack, with a 3 – 2 record.
The third fixture was the eagerly anticipated Clash of the Creatives. And boy, did they ever create! Constance produced a superb Tom Yam, chock-full of fresh seafood and redolent with that unmistakeable Thai flavour. It’s hard to imagine how such a dish could not be a winner, but in the opinion of the Priority diners, it was just edged out by Joseph’s Spicy Stuffed Squid. This platter featured chunky squid, stuffed with the cephalopod’s own tentacles in a mixture of wild rice, garlic, onions and bell peppers. Neither of these superb concoctions deserved to lose.
And neither, in William’s own opinion, did his Potage aux champignons et poulet! This rich, buttery mushroom and chicken soup, from the Normandy region of France, was exquisitely presented in individual bowls. It failed, however, to defeat Kairavi’s mixed vegetables in chili garlic, which earned the veggie queen her third victory and second position in the table, on points.
A temperamental William was seen throwing his apron to the ground and storming down the tunnel into the dressing room, but he later returned to congratulate Kairavi, albeit with gritted teeth.
Next week, food fans, will give the Priority chefs a break. Several of the team are away, on vacation, medical leave or business – or in the case of Bryan, wielding a rifle rather than a spatula as he serves his reservist stint out in the jungle. We suspect he will return with a very special recipe for barbecued wild boar!
We’ll see you again on October 1st. Meanwhile – happy eating!