And yet more cooking of sorts. Does mankind do anything else? The Ritz-Carlton want to make this an annual event. So the subject is cooking again, but a little different this time, as this was a competition to see if there are budding chefs among the Bahraini Population.
Well of course there and some damn good ones. All the major 5 star hotels in Bahrain have Bahraini Chefs of one label or another. Ah, whether they cook ‘your’ staple dish to your liking is another story. Shepherds Pie with a more curry flavour or a Chicken Masala with a Machboos overtone, well…. But they can cook and know their onions as did these contestants. There are no flies on this lot, in more ways than one.
In fact, being truthful, this competition had two if not three professional capable chefs taking part . When we say capable, it means they are proficient but are not chefs by trade. Ahmed AlQaheri for a start is a lawyer and a tiger. Tahla Bashmi knows exactly what she is doing in the kitchen, as it seems the other contestants did for this first showing. It was the youngest member among the competitors who actually walked away with the prize. A lot of opinions flying about the place, but she was the one who won.
Why it was open only to Bahrainis is questionable, but there you go. With expatriates being half the population, the scope would have been far more interesting.
The Chef competition went on for two days, with each contestant having one hour to knock up something appealing. You can see what they did in the video. 11 heats to the final and then the ‘final’. It is an unusual method of competition doing it all in two days, but seems this is more spontaneous and interesting. As a critique, taking into account the observations above; the cooking was superb but the creativity lacked somewhat. Then again, the first day, each contestant had to use prawns and one other ingredient. The second day it was Chicken breast with either black lemons or goat cheese. The final was a sweet as you can see.
Although the range and styles of cuisine in Bahrain is as good as it gets, the influences are very apparent whatever you are eating. Then again, one suspects that half the Chefs in France are Algerian. Fish n’ Chip shops in Britain used to be run mainly by Greeks, but if they didn’t get it right, they went out of business, didn’t they Harry? Actually getting good old fashioned fish n’ chip say in Bahrain is not so easy to come by, but its getting better. Indeed, all over the Gulf you can find bacon and eggs, but it is not anything like you get in the transport cafe on the A1 in Britain for example. Unless in a Five Star hotel or a club, the bacon is either beef or turkey. Yuck! A Kuwaiti breakfast dish in a Four Star hotel will consist of chicken nuggets out of a box and generally as sophisticated as a flip-flop.
No matter what sort of event or setting it is, whether a Mexican food festival or the delights of say France, at one end of the buffet you will still find Machboos, Sharwarmas and basic Arabic sweets and often find the ‘point’ of the event untouched. Don’t bother with a Scottish flavour unless you invite Scots, for the haggis will not even be sniffed at. It is the same with anything else; paella or whatever the specialty might be, preference and diet in the Gulf is near static. But hey, it will still be a good night out.