Q&A's

I would like some advice/clarification regards “Works in Fat” competition class. I am aware that there is a stipulation on the maximum size of the exhibit (usually 2’6” sq) however there are no guidelines as to the minimum size of an exhibit. At an exhibition recently there was some disagreement between competitor and judges as to what constitutes an acceptable size of exhibit. I would appreciate your comments.
I think the key is that the medium of Fat is used for a centre piece! So it should be a suitable size to enhance a buffet presentation. If it is too small it will be perceived as not being a centre piece even though you could argue that as part of a small buffet it could be. The size specification is there for a reason to guide you to the size they are looking for always try to use as much of the space available. The medium is better used on a larger scale, small can be detailed however If it is one colour piece you rely heavily on the natural shadows to give the piece movement and depth in 3d when its to small it can look a bit 1 dimensional. When choosing a subject I would look for movement not to static. Whilst things like busts have won gold in the past they have to be perfect as a representation. Keep the proportions life like or go completely abstract or cartoon for example. If you wish to work in a small scale then pastilage is the correct medium.
I have competed in Wessex salon, hotelympia and hospitality which I have come away with medals but I would like to try the bigger events like the world cup how would i get to that stage?
The International competition scene which encompasses the World cup and Olympics involves primarily cold work to an extremely high level. The way to get involved is to in the first instance express an interest and hopefully get selected as a support member to a team, however there are always financial restrictions on any team which limits a the amount of people that they can take. Alternatively pay to go to the event yourself to do an individual entry or just to support the team. Secondly compete in Cold categories in the national events such as Wessex, Hotelympia, Hospitality and mini major series and be spotted for Gold achievements at such events this is the level you will require as a starting point for international competitions. The world cup and Olympics are a feast of culinary displays and artistry with little hot cookery other than the National teams.
I’m in experienced in competitions and working as commis in a small restaurant and Hotelympia seems a bit to high level for me where do I start my competition experience?
If you are inexperienced in competitions the best route to take is to enter local salons at a novice level. The Major Mini series is and ideal level to start off at the details are on the Craft Guild of Chefs website under the competition page. There are two more this season on 16th May 2008 Venue Henley on Thames College and 11th June 2008 at Westminster Kingsway College. The competition schedule and classes and detai are all on the website. The Wessex Salon in March at The Bournemouth International Centre is also a good competition.
What are the judges looking for when I cook a live dish?
Most importantly they are looking for is can you cook the protein element correctly. If you were sitting in a restaurant and your fish or meat came to you raw or overcooked would you pay? This is the true measure of the chef as it is the most expensive element for us all to buy and should be treated with skill in cooking and preparation.
Where can I get hold of Aspic jelly?
Ritter Courivaud Customer services number; Tel: 0208 991 4350
Why do some sauces on restaurant plates appear to dull, whilst others shine all through display?
The reason why they dull is because people fail to add sugar and gelatine to the sauce. It is acceptable according to WACS rules to add both gelatine and sugar to sauce’s for cold intended hot to enhance you plates. You should always start off with a sauce which original flavour is true to the sauce, i.e. beef jus should taste of beef, then add additional sugar and gelatine to preserve and enhance the sauce whilst on display.
How Many times should I glaze and Item for platters or cold intended hot?
You should glaze an item at least twice, the most important thing is to achieve a level and clear glaze with no runs and no spots of aspic, 3 times should be enough though.
How important is seasonality in live cookery competitions, will I get marked down if I use berries in winter?
Seasonality is a plus if you're using ingredients to their full potential. Cooking methods combining flavours and textures are the main objective to a good dish. If you intend to follow a theme or highlight the originality of a product through your menu you will need to work on exact flavours identify the angle you wish the judges to concentrate on and harmonise the dishes. It is often thought that using ingredients out of season is not the way forward however getting the right combination and execution of a dish can far out weigh using ingredients in season that have no correct substance. Fresh in most cases is regarded as best though some dried items such as some species of wild mushrooms give a better result especially in sauces etc.

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