Friday, February 20, 2015

Earlier this year I received an email congratulating me that I'd been chosen as a finalist for a Competition held by The Noosa International Food and Wine Festival. The competition is ILVE Presents "Australia's Best Home Cook" and its to showcase the rise of the modern, everyday home cook.

After receiving more info about the cook-off it was all coming excitingly clear that I had a 1 in 3 chance to represent WA and attend the Festival In May at Noosa! What a fantastic prize!

The dish I'd chosen is a very easy dish, in fact the recipe is here. It's called Shakshuka and is basically a thick tomato sauce with Moroccan spices, beans and chorizo. Its simmered for a good 30-40 minutes before cracking some eggs around in the sauce and letting the hot simmering cook the eggs to your liking. It is then served with crusty bread to mop up the tasty goodness.

Cook off day had arrived and I headed to the ILVE Showroom in Osborne Park. My Hubby then met up with me at the showroom for moral support and to bring my bread knife that I forgot!

Cooking at home in your own kitchen is fun, comfortable and every appliance you know how to use. Cooking in a foreign kitchen is a quite daunting; not to mention cooking under pressure and the judges watching your every move. The showroom was full of beautiful brand new ovens, gas cook tops and induction cook tops which took a little help from the friendly staff on how to use, but once we knew, it took a bit of stress off.

I was so happy to see that my big heavy based Scanpan pan I brought from home worked on the new induction cook top, so I used that to cook my dish and the heat control was fantastic. Usually at home when I simmer on low I find it catches on the bottom of the pan but this was simmering the whole pan gently and constant.

We had 2 hours to cook off and the ambience wasn't stressful but more calm. We had all obviously cooked our dishes heaps of times before, so we eased straight into cooking mode fast.

My dish was presented, eaten and judged 2nd in line. I gave the judges a brief description of the dish and explained how versatile and easy it was to cook.

The judges deliberated and their decision was final. I was stoked to be chosen as the winner of the WA round!! I now get the chance to cook off in May at the Noosa Festival. I've never been to Noosa but I've been hearing its a lovely place and the Festival is so much fun, I'm really looking forward to it!!

To celebrate my Hubby and I were invited to Print Hall for the media launch the next day along with Jim Berardo and Greg O'Brien, the co-founders of the Festival and a few of the sponsors. Print Hall has been on my list for so long I was excited to try Executive Chef Shane Watsons amazing food. We headed to the function room on the 2nd floor and it didn't take me long to spot the menu folded in the napkins.

Duck Liver Parfait was my Hubby's first course. Generous mounds of lovely smooth and rich parfait topped with salted plum, cherry and a smear of Geraldton wax on the side.

My first course was the vegetarian option; New Season Vegetables which was lovely steamed asparagus and yellow squash, savoury soya milk and a big roasted malt wafer! I love asparagus and the fresh dill paired with the other elements perfectly!

For mains I had the Pan Roasted Barramundi that was topped with Coorong Pippis, courgette and dill. The skin was lovely and crispy and the Barra cooked to perfection.

David Blackmore's Wagyu Beef Bavette was a cracker of a dish! My husband loved the cut of beef which they cooked perfectly medium-rare and it was accompanied with leek, roasted pepper, cornichons, beef tendon and a rich jus. The beef tendon was soft; almost jelly like with a light meaty flavour, quite hard to describe.

The desserts we chose were Sweet Chaos with sweet parfait, honeycomb, mandarin and lavender and The Bittersweet Chocolate Tart which was lovely dark chocolate ganache snaked across the plate adorned with caramel almonds, crumbled caramel popcorn and ice cream. Both desserts were delicious.

Extremely satisfied from our sumptuous lunch we then had a speech from one of the Founders of the Noosa Festival Jim Berardo who gave us a brief history of the event and how its changed and grown over the years. Jim Berardo and Greg O'Brien first started the Festival over a decade ago as a way to thank all the suppliers of the Berardo Restaurant. It's gotten bigger and better each year and now has over 25,000 people attending the 4 day event each year.

Jim then introduced Print Hall's Executive Chef Shane Watson to everyone and he gave a speech about the menu that we just ate and his plans for The Noosa Festival.  If your planning on heading to The Noosa International Food &Wine Festival this year Shane will be in charge of the Audi Asian Food Trail on the Thursday and Friday so get your tickets!

I cannot wait for May to roll around and get a chance to attend this awesome festival and cook off against the other fantastic Home Cooks!

Keep an eye out for my next post: Australia's Best Home Cook Competition Finale!

Visit The Noosa International Food and Wine Festival Website.

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  1. I love Shakshuka! You must be so excited to be going to the cook off! I'm now starving from reading this post! I look forward to hearing all about the cook off :)

    1. Thanks Matt! I'm super excited!! How good is Shakshuka, I love how it can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner!! I'll be sure you keep you in the loop :-) xxxxx

  2. Noosa International Food and Wine Festival is especial for their food competition and you can get a lot of recipe that create a great combination when use it with wine. Hope to see some interesting recipes at this festival next time.

    1. Thanks Cong! Unfortunately the festival has been cancelled for this year!


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