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First prize - Northern regional Semi-final:

The Cooking Show of Chef Artisans

Saturday, 10/15/2016 13:32
If chefs were artists and cooking was a performance, chefs from Naman Retreat Resort Da Nang attractively and notably performed their jobs at the northern semi-final round of The Golden Spoon Award 2016.

Mobilizing ingredients from all continents and applying molecular gastronomy methods, the Golden Dishes menu of Da Nang chefs brought whole new interesting sensual experiences to all judges and diners.

1.Focus on eyes and working hands of the chef!” said director to cameraman. The clicking sounds from cameras of reporters were around when they all focus on chef Nguyen Xuan Do team 11 – Naman Retreat Resort Da Nang. Judges looked at deliberate acts of the chef who was pull the Isomalt sugar mixture to create a glassy tube, which its pedestal cooped a little sauce from olive oil and truffle mushroom and its top held a slice of dried lotus root. Chef Xuan Do put all his focus on the molecular-gastronomy-style performance, preparing to decorate dishes of the menu: slow cooked squad, milled corns, and truffle mushroom and lotus seed cake in coco-wine sauce.

Chef Xuan Do focused on deliberately pulling Isomalt sugar mixture.

Super chef David Thai, professional judge of The Golden Spoon Contest 2016, was not surprised by that skillful technique because his seniority was made from international experiences, especially the period with Michelin Star chefs. However, he had to give chef Xuan Do a complimentary, “Very good! Good ideas and perfect act.” Probably this judge would be surprised if he had heard what 26 years old chef Xuan Do unbosomed, “We have leanred these technichques from the Internet. It took lots of time to get it right.”

Last round, together with lead Nguyen Quoc Hoang and Nguyen Quoc Thinh, this team also performed another technique of molecular gastronomy: smoking. The dish included grilled mallard, milled Duy Nghia purple yam and beet, young vegetables, and wild pepper sauce. It was covered by a cloche, which enclosed oak smoke when served on table. In semi-final round, they were much more confident with the topic “Golden Dishes” and they decided to apply molecular gastronomy in all 4 dishes as following: Wagyu beef soup and French foie gras; cold seafood (lobsters, octopus, and Alaskan shrimps] served with seaweed and black caviar; sous vide squad, milled corn, truffle mushroom and lotus seed cake in coconut-red wine sauce; soft chocolate cake in coconut cream, pistachios soft cake, and coconut white chocolate.

Our team intentionally prepared that menu so that we can show all technical skills we have learned. We want a better tomorrow” said chef Quoc Hoang. The menu carries an obvious integrative morale through choices of international ingredients along with Vietnamese spices and modern cooking methods, such as cosommé, molecular gastronomy, and sous vide in order to create healthy yet good-looking dishes.

Chef Quoc Hoang presented a message “Protect the oceans” by the dish Cold Seafood, including lobster, octopus, and Alaskan shrimps served with seaweed and black caviar.

29 years old chef also said, “All performances at this contest are what we have been doing at the resort. We have learned from each other and tried to learn more to able to combine Vietnamese ingredients and spices and international culinary essences. Therefore our classic party tables will have new healthy and nutritious dishes.

2. Chef Quoc Hoang made a joke, saying that it was a United Nation menu since besides Vietnamese ingredients and spices, they mobilized specialties from many different countries, such as Alaskan shrimps, Canada lobsters, New Zealand green mussels, and Japanese octopus and seaweed. Moreover, the ingredients are best choices from all over the world, like imported Morchella mushroom from Italy, truffle musroom, imported squad from France, and Japanese Wagyu beef.

Wagyu beef soup and French foie gras.

Young chefs were appreciated – as judge David Thai commented – not because of “toys” (specialized tools and machines) but because of their creation on ingredients and addictives, and their skillful techniques. The soup was inspired by French traditional soup. Beef bones were slow cooked to make bouillon then added gelatin, shaped as a ball, and frozen at nearly 0oC in 45 minutes.

Slow cooked Japanese Wagyu beef and bite sliced sauté French foie gras were placed on the sides of the ball and adding a piece of gold is to make it noble. The most alluring part was that diners could make the last step of cooking process. They would pour the hot sauce (from truffle mushroom, celery, onion, carrot, and thyme) over the ball by a reversed osmosis jar (looked like a Japanese style coffee maker).

Cold Seafood: lobster, octopus, and Alaskan shrimps served with seaweed and black caviar.

The appetite - Cold seafood – sent a message of protecting the ocean if people still wanted to receive diverse and nutritious seafood. Excellent seafood above did not require fussy cooking progress but they were well steamed. The novel point is in decoration. Seafood was place on sand “beach”, which was seasoning. The sand “beach” was a combination of Maltodextrin, seaweed, and Japanese anchovy. The Kumbo seaweed was fried, oil drained, and grinded; Japanese anchovy was deep-fried in hazelnut oil and mixed with Maltodextrin and seaweed powder. When heated, fine powder would agglutinate into tiny clumps as sand. “Sand beach” was salty and fishy, fully ocean-like.

To make the dish more alluring, chefs applied foaming technique (molecular gastronomy) of a famous chef Ferran Adrial. In order to “foam”, an additive was added to broth made from clams, carrots, celeries, and white wine – then use a high power electric mixer to mix them up. This smooth foam lay on the “sand beach” just like sponge from ocean waves. Diners enjoyed the dish not only by eyes, noses, and tongues but also by ears. There were big seashells with a recorder inside placed aside, diners could savor fine seafood on “sand beach” and listen to the sounds of ocean.

Sous vide squad, milled corn, truffle mushroom and lotus seed cake in coconut red-wine sauces.

3. The most reticent person in the team is chef Quoc Thinh. He was always busy with his lead to cook sous-vide squads. Squads were slow cooked at 65oC in 45 minutes. This is a method to reserve all nutrition. The meat can be pink in vision but all are edible. The squads were served with special sauce made from squad bones, spices, vegetables (celeries, onions, carrots, bay leaves, and fresh coconut juice), and a little of Malibu (coconut smell sweet liquor) added to odorize it.

Chef Quoc Hoang expressed his relaxation and winning smile, saying that if he had more time, the sauce would be perfect with full absorbance from nutritious ingredients. Side dishes were milled young corns, truffle mushroom and lotus seed cake, and vegetable tips. The most unique feature of the main dish were the glass-like tube which held the olive oil and truffle mushroom sauce together with a slice of dried lotus seed. Mixture of Isomalt sugar and water was “baked” to boil at 180oC in multi-oven. When cool down, sugar mixture transformed into glue-like and chef Xuan Do just used a specialized alum tube to make a glassy tube out of it.

Soft chocolate cake in coconut cream, pistachios soft cake, and coconut white chocolate.

The last course was obviously desserts. The soft chocolate cake was shaped from dark chocolate, coconut cream, calcic powder, alginate then placed in low temperature. Pistachios soft cake was a combination of pistachio powder and baking powder. These two cakes were placed on “sand beach” made from maltodextrin and chocolate. Food artisan, judge Bui Thi Suong gave a comment, “You guys have a modern and delicate way to display your work. That means you guys pay lots of attention to show your abilities to impress diners not only with taste and smell but also with skillfully cooking performances.

Mrs Suong said that all 4 dishes presented unique tastes and nice-looking decoration. The most attractive and performing dish was sous-vide squad according to judge Bui Thi Suong, she was very interested in the show on party table. However, she gave feedback, “Learning, researching, and practicing modern cooking method are excellent work. You should keep it up and apply for Vietnamese ingredients in order to elevate our national cuisine.”

1st prize party table in Northern semi-final round – Namen Retreat Resort Da Nang.

A diverse menu, alluring skills, and attractive decoration help chefs from Naman Retreat Resort Da Nang seized the 1st prize in Northern semi-final round, The Golden Spoon Awards 2016. Besides a ticket to the final round, the team also received 50,000,000vnd from Ceramic Minh Long I company. Lead Quoc Hoang was so happy to share his slogan “Differences lead to Success”, which was the Lodestar guiding his team closer to the 1 billion award. Being asked about “the black box” challenge in final round, Quoc Hoang was confidentially said, “I think it will be a gift box for chefs to show their capacity.

By T. Dzung

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