Eleven weeks and three locations later, the Zimbabwe Cook Off came to an end on Saturday, 30 November.
Nicholas Fourie and Amy McLeod went head to head in the final event. Both were very excited about staying in so long. In the week leading up to the final, contestants had to come up with a dish to prepare for the judges.
Before they were able to cook their own dish, however, they had to replicate a Japanese dish, cooked by judge at the event, Chef Takayuki Minagawa. The dish was Taki Agi with core ingredients of prawns and Kariba bream.
Both contestants had a problem with the tempura batter, with Nick’s too thick, and Amy’s too thin. Despite this, the judges responded positively, and contestants were sent off to cook their own dish as the final part of the event.
Nick and Amy had loosened up, and were not as tense as on previous days – possibly due to the festive atmosphere at Highlands Park with everyone enjoying the day. Amy cooked chicken korma with saffron rice, while Nick cooked Kariba crayfish and tilapia bisque with a dill and phyllo crisp. Nick’s dish was also served with pan-seared watermelon, minted Greek yogurt and caramelized pecan nuts.
Then it was time for the judging. Judges spoke about the journey Nick and Amy have been on – from when they started the Cook Off to cooking professional-worthy food. Chef Tafadzwa said “there was a big impact in flavour, and it completely raised the bar.” He said that Nick’s warm watermelon cleansed the pallet – it was “outstanding.” When it came to Amy’s chicken korma, Chef Tafadzwa said, “It is the best I have ever tasted!”
In the end, it was flavour that won the day, with Amy taking the title of Best Amateur Chef in Zimbabwe.
The almost three-month event has reached its end. Of her win, Amy said, “I am speechless. I am happy, but there are no words for how happy I am.”