My father and I were recently involved in a local Top Chef competition as a fundraiser for a church. I have to admit I was more than scared. I cook for friends and family with no fancy training. Sometimes the dishes are winners, and of course serious losers. My family has to keep me around because they are family! My friends are just great people and too polite to tell me otherwise. Cooking for strangers and having them judge me?!?! That could be a serious blow to my little cooking ego. I never like watching competitive cooking shows because I strongly detest the idea of ripping someones cooking apart. Cooking can be a fun and passionate expression of ones self. It is something you do from your heart and therefore I feel dissecting ones food is to dissect their character. Okay, maybe that is a little serious. But really, whats good to one person may not be to another simply based on personal preference. So who can really judge?
My ranting and raving aside, this was a big challenge not only because it was being judged….But, it was being judged by 130 people!!! The most I have cooked for is 35. I am used to large groups, but I am not a catering hall! So I did it, I faced the challenge head on. Took me a week to prep and plan with 3 days of solid cooking. I surprised myself and I guess I everyone else around me because I WON!!! The other teams made great food and worked just as hard. I made everything from scratch and my nerves were shot! I was and still am proud of myself. For me, that was a big risk to take. Also, the event raised 15,000 for the church to begin building a functional kitchen to service the town seniors.
My winning dessert was chocolate panna cotta with raspberry sauce. Super easy and a make ahead dish, I am sharing the recipe below!
Check out our competition video spoof, as well as some clips from the event on YouTube: