Last Saturday marked the fourth week of the Zimbabwe Cook Off, a Masterchef-styled competition aimed at developing culinary skills in Zimbabwe, as well as increasing awareness of the industry.
Running for ten weeks, each Saturday there is a round of the competition, usually at Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale. The last round, however, was held at Rainbow Towers to coincide with a competition for chefs from Zimbabwe’s top hotels.
Week 1 and 2 were open rounds, with twenty contestants entering. There were no restrictions on what they cooked. Only ten made it through to Week 3. In this round they had to use fish in the starter and main dish.
According to the judges, the standards increased dramatically as contestants got used to the atmosphere. Nine contestants remained at Week 4. In this round, the judges, including Stephen Hyde of Bronte Hotel and Christopher Gonzo of Meikles Hotel, had surprises for the contestants.
The first was that each contestant had the assistance of a chef from a leading hotel in Zimbabwe. Chefs included Chef Cristos from Cresta and Chef Alice from Meikles Hotel. One of the dishes cooked was dressed board steak with minestrone vegetables and thick cut chips, by contestant Nicholas Fourie.
Despite the heat on Saturday, the contestants seemed to breeze through the day’s beef themed challenge. As it was an immunity challenge, no one was eliminated. Amy McLeod won the immunity, saving her from possible elimination next week.
Not everyone liked the second surprise from the judges. This was the addition of two challengers – audience members wanting to join the competition. They each cooked a dish which got them into the next round where they will have to prove themselves to stay in.
The Week 5 challenge will be a ‘mystery box’. Contestants will not know what ingredients they will be cooking with until the challenge starts. With the elimination of three contestants next week, the competition is really starting to hot up.
We’ll be bringing you updates but to watch the action as it happens, head over to the Sam Levy’s car park in front of ProTyre on Saturday for a 10am start.