We spoke to Anamika Rai, a Level 2 Food and Beverage student, who has been selected as one of eight finalists in the Young Peruvian Chef of the Year 2017 competition. The final will be at Westminster Kingsway College on Monday 8th May.
Congratulations on such a massive achievement! Can you tell us more about how you applied for the competition, and what you had to do?
Anamika:”My lecturer told me about this competition, and said that if I wanted to do it, I could. I researched Peruvian food and worked out a menu. When I applied, I made all of the food and then sent off pictures with information about the ingredients to the competition judges.
“Over half term I found out that I’d been selected as one of eight finalists in the nationwide competition, so I’ve been practising the dishes since we got back from the holidays. I’m really excited but quite nervous as well as this is my first competition!”
Catering Programme Manager, Gwen Grace said: “Students were given the main ingredients they had to incorporate in to their dishes. These were avocado, cacao, and quinoa. Anamika focused her menu on street food to make it more appealing – food on the go. Though we wanted to turn the ingredients on their head – like having avocado in the dessert. We’ve been practising to get the time it takes to make everything down, and we’re currently at two and a half hours which is really good.”
Anamika: “Gwen’s really supportive – she’s really supporting me to do this competition and encouraging me – when I think I can’t do it, she tells me I can, and that really makes me believe I can do it too!”
Can you tell us a bit more about your menu?
Anamika: “Because we had to incorporate certain ingredients, I started with those. I used cacao to make a spicy chocolate sauce and then the quinoa for the bread and coating for the sea bass main. The avocado was used to make a cheesecake mousse and then I built the dishes around those.
“The starter is spicy churros with beef heart skewers and then a sweet potato, corn, and cacao sauce. I also made some tempura prawns because there’s a lot of Asian influence in Peruvian street food, and they eat a lot of seafood. I chose to make a fish main as well which is sea bass with sweet potato fritters, handmade mayonnaise with chillies and coriander in it, and bread made from the quinoa. For dessert, I made ice cream cones filled with the avocado cheesecake mousse, with nuts which I fried in butter and sugar, for an added crunch. There’s also a passion fruit syrup and some dried raspberries to add some sour to go along with the sweet mousse, as avocado can be quite rich.”
Starter – Spicy Churros with Beef Heart Skewers, Cacao Sauce and Tempura Prawns
Main – Breaded Seabass Fillet in Quinoa Bread with Sweet Potato Fritters
Dessert – Avocado Cheesecake Mousse Ice Cream Cones
Gwen: “The judges want to see skills used in the kitchen, not just taste the food, so Anamika has prepared everything, including filleting a whole sea bass herself. There’s a lot of skill going into these dishes.”
Well done Anamika for getting into the final, and good luck from all of us. We’re rooting for you!