Saturday, May 11, 2013

After the Event - the Robertsons Spicemaster Challenge

My station just before I plate up
I'm back home after rather stressful but very enjoyable morning stepping way out of my comfort zone into competitive cooking! My last post was all part of the competition,  a challenge to South African food bloggers from Robertsons Spices, to see who could cook up a storm from a mystery box of ingredients and then blog up a storm about it immediately afterwards. We were to be judged by Chef Reuben Riffel and the winner would get to blog for Robertsons for four months as well as winning some pretty fantastic prizes.

Nerves, nerves, nerves attacked me beforehand. What if I couldn't think of a thing to cook, what if , what if, what if. I revised all my Indian dishes, checked up on the spices for chicken korma, aloo gobi and so on, but in the end the Indian spices, cardamom,  turmeric, coriander, mustard seeds weren't on the shelves, so I took refuge in my Italian comfort zone instead. I would normally never serve pasta with a main meat course, but the alternative starches were polenta, cake flour or risotto rice, so I crushed my food snobbery underfoot and went with a simple fresh tomato sauce on linguini that would serve as a foil for the mustard notes of the chicken.

My pic of my plated dish, snapped in the heat of the moment

Then I revved it up a little with a sauce of anchovies and capers mixed with oil and mustard to dip the broccoli in. That was winging it a bit as I haven't made anyting like that for years and I wasn't quite sure if I had it right, but I hope it worked.

The kitchen at SA Chefs Academy 5 minutes before times up

To put you out of your misery (my gorgeous blog friends who are holding your breaths), I didn't win... but I did bring home a lovely little Le Creuset sauce pot and a beautiful beech wood (and very solid) Robertsons spice rack, soon to be used on SA Masterchef,as well as having a wonderful morning meeting and chatting with fellow food bloggers that I'd never met before, and some lovely media people.

Great prizes from Robertsons Spices and Le Creuset

The winner was Barry of Cape Cook, who showcased the spices with plenty of oomph and made a chicken and chorizo stew on polenta. I think my spicing was a tad too subtle... on reflection trying to get that authentic Italian flavour, where the spices are a background note to the other ingredients without overwhelming them may not have  been the best strategy for a spice challenge!

Anyway thanks very much to Robertsons for inviting me to take part, to photographer Michael for being so helpful when I was writing my post on a strange laptop and trying to get pictures loaded (no stress!), to Jane-Anne for being so supportive, and to all the other food bloggers there for being such good company. Check out their competition posts too to see what we all went through.

Barry of Cape Cook,
Fritz of Real Men Can Cook,
Thuli of Mzansi Cuisine,
Kristy of Food Monger,
Matt of Curate this Space,
Saaleha of Meals on Speed
Totally gratuitous pic of cute kitten, dogs and spices

Would I do it again...? Yes I think I'm crazy enough to despite the nerves and stress. More than compensated for by the chance to be part of a friendly and fun food event, and of course the Le Creuset pot and Robertsons spice rack!


  1. You're welcome Kit. Commiserations, but love the pot & spice rack. Sorry I didn't get to taste your dish. x

  2. Thanks, Jane-Anne. I wish we'd all got to taste each others dishes too - would have been even more interesting.

  3. To me, experiences like this are so fulfilling that "winning" is not really the point. The fact that you got in there, rolled up your sleeves, and tried something new is SO exciting! The goodies you brought home, and the memories, and the great blog-fodder... that's the real prize, eh?


  4. You're so right, Marcheline. I don't think any of us felt like 'losers'. It was just great being part of it, a major adrenaline rush!


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