The sport of cooking: Amr Helmy Design's competition kicks off

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

Tarragon, paprika, basil, garlic. These are just a few of the spices that were being tossed into the mouthwatering platters by participants of Amr Helmy Designs’ Cooking Competition in Maadi.

Lovers of fine food made their way through the different kitchen displays to get a taste of the action as four teams battled it out using their culinary craft. While some competed for the love of the game, others were going for the grand prize: A full kitchen designed by Amr Helmy.

Orbit TV was present to film the event, which began at 8 pm. Earlier the film crew followed the contestants to the market as they bought enough ingredients for three recipes: fish, chicken or beef. The main ingredient was kept secret until the start of the competition and chicken was the choice.

The teams had exactly one hour to prepare their platter as three judges – including popular chef Mona Amer – watched and took notes on their handiwork. Amer relayed a play-by-play commentary to spectators.

On the first floor in the Minimalist Kitchen, Karim Molyneux Berry and Maie El-Hadidy chopped mushrooms and pulled pomegranate seeds for their chicken wrapped soy fried vegetables platter.

Halfway through, Molyneux said, “I am overcome with aromas and scents..The pressure’s on, but everything’s under control.

Next door at the Retro Kitchen, Manal Khalil and Engy Bakr delicately decided which spices to infuse with their chicken glaze, which would later be paired with rice. The seating area in Retro featured a wall-mounted screen projecting Orbit TV’s footage, making this a popular room.

The Italians were upstairs in the Japanese kitchen. Cabrini sautéed chicken as Dialosio cooked rice, creating a scrumptious saffron rice cake. They worked diligently, chopping and slicing their ingredients. The handful of Italians in the crowd chatting and laughing with the cooks made it reminiscent of a Calabrian kitchen.

Further down in the Bauhaus kitchen, Mamdouh El-Fakharany and Nofert Saleh were brewing an aromatic tomato sauce for their pasta as chicken fillets sizzled on the skillet.

When Amer told contestants to “Drop your utensils, it was an all out feeding frenzy. The crowd of at least 200 went from Minimalist to Bauhaus, Japanese to Retro kitchen displays to try each platter, and then voted for the team whose culinary creation teased their taste buds most.

Diana, a dancer from Egypt, said, “The easiest part was eating; the hardest part was deciding. My vote goes to Karim and Maie.

Daniel, an Italian-American, said he voted for Cabrini and Dialosio “not just because I am Italian, but because their chicken rice cake was the best thing I have eaten in ages.

Huddled around the large counter in the Japanese set, contestants displayed their final product to the judges, whose score on presentation, taste and creativity would account for 60 percent of the vote while the visitor choice made up the rest.

After the totals were tallied, Mamdouh and Nofert received the lowest visitor votes (26), while Karim and Maie received the highest (42).

When the judges’ scores were added, Karim and Maie came out on top (with 67.5 points) and will be heading to the semi-finals in June 2008. They received the highest overall score and won first place for presentation. Cabrini and Dialosio came in first place for taste while Manal and Engy won the creativity category. Runners-up received kitchen sets including a blender and a juicer.

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