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MLA award showcases young talent

Young chefs from across the UAE showcased their skills at the recent Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Black Box Culinary Challenge, held at the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai.

Young chefs from across the UAE showcased their skills at the recent Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Black Box Culinary Challenge, held at the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai.

However, it was Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel that won the competition overall, with chefs Anand Coonoor, Ramakrishnan Deepu, and Stephen Meidyanto Rahmat preparing brown lentil soup and mint tea cold smoked lamb loin for starters, beef and mushroom pie for mains, and candied orange pudding for dessert.

The competition, now in its fourth year, is open to teams consisting of three members below the age of 32, and led by a team captain of any age or rank, acting in an advisory role.

Twenty-four hours before the gala dinner, teams were given a black box filled with ingredients including Australian beef, seafood, and fruit and vegetables, with an hour to develop a four-course menu. Additional ingredients consisted of zatar, Chinese chives, eringy mushrooms and pitahaya.

“The structure of the competition creates an awareness among young chefs of the products available in the marketplace, particularly from Australia. It also gives chefs the opportunity to challenge themselves creatively,” said Leslie Stronach, executive chef, Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Despite Jumeirah Beach Hotel being the overall winners of the competition, the awards for best soup and entrée went to Jumeirah Al Qasr and the Radisson SAS Dubai Deira Creek respectively.

Chefs Ulrich Jablonka, Richard Bias and Scott Christopher Stokesi formed the team from the Burj Al Arab, who won the award for best main course. Mina A’Salam Madinat Jumeirah took the award for best dessert. Host venue, the JW Marriott Dubai won the best table display award.

Overall, 12 teams participated in the event including the Burj Al Arab, InterContinental Al Ain, JW Marriott Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, Mina A’Salam Madinat Jumeirah, Marco Polo Hotel, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, Radisson SAS Dubai Deira Creek, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, and Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa.

Sponsored by MLA, the challenge is predicted to heat up even more next year when the winning team will represent Dubai at the global final, which will be held as part of the WACS World Congress being held in Dubai in 2008.

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