by Gareth Groves
Good food would choose Bordeaux. Or so the current marketing campaign for the region’s wines would have you believe. To help prove the link between Bordeaux and fine grub, Bordeaux Wines organised a masterchef style cooking competition for members of the trade and press.
The competition was hotly contested. Two heats of six teams were whittled down to six finalists. Bibendum’s very own Willie Lebus and Caroline Conner were among the finalists and all set to cook up a storm in search of the top prize. Then disaster struck. A combination of diary clashes and manflu meant neither was available for selection on the big day.
It was left to yours truly to step in as a late substitution, bullying my colleague Jenn to join me at the last minute.
The format was simple: choose your ingredients and then cook them over three hours in the sweltering heat of the kitchens at Westminster Kingsway College. The competition was fierce and contenders were taking it very seriously indeed. The teams worked in a hushed silence only perforated by the odd swear word.
Team Bibendum started with this:
Which over several hours (mainly spent sipping vin blanc and tinkering with a plum puree) we turned into this…
Beautiful plates, I’m sure you’ll agree and they do say the first bite is with the eyes. Unfortunately for us, the second and third bites are not.
Despite pairing the cod, leeks and mussels with a beautifully fresh Semillon-based white from (I think) the Entre-Deux-Mers and matching a plump, fruity Merlot to the venison, come the final reckoning we lost marks for unimaginative use of ingredients, a watery beurre blanc, and a overly bolshy plum and blackberry sauce, amongst other culinary crimes.
Harsh words but then if you can’t stand the heat, you know what to do.
The winning team was Joe and Stefan from Restaurant Magazine who knocked up an awesome sea bass and mushrooms starter followed by some perfectly cooked wild duck. Clearly all that hanging out with the UK’s top chefs has rubbed off. Worthy champions.