Pots were sizzling, knives were chopping and the heat was on. The Great Jewish Cook Off was a new and innovative competition that I was proud to implement as a new UJS National Event this year.
The month of March saw 11 teams from Edinburgh to Exeter battle it out across 3 heats (hosted in London, Bristol and Edinburgh) for a place in the final on 19th March to win a private cooking class with one of our judges, Rachel Davies of Rachel’s Kitchen. We were also honoured to have with us Emma Spitzer, who was a 2015 finalist of Master Chef, as our other guest judge.
For the heats, students entered in teams of three and they had to make five dishes within a given time frame. It was up to the teams how they wished to divide their time, and the judging was based on three criteria: Presentation, Creativity and Taste. Teams were provided with all the ingredients to make an Israeli salad, shakshuka, home made hummous, a vegetarian kishke and an experimental dessert. This incorporated a mixture of traditionally Jewish and Israeli food - something we all love.
The grand finale saw the winning teams of each heat in close competition against each other. The teams made an experimental vegetable soup, vegetable lasagne, and two creative challenges. With no recipes to base the ingredients off of, it was interesting to see the array of dishes the teams made from chocolate mousse to meringue and mandelbrot. In the end, Edinburgh J-Soc's team (pictured right with guest judges Emma and Rachel) was crowned winners for their extra creativity and delicious dessert, whilst runners up Kent J-Soc and Bristol J-Soc will be receiving Emma Spitzer’s new cookery book entitled 'Fress', out in April.
The event was a huge success, has engaged a lot of new students and provided them with an opportunity to be involved with UJS whilst raising money for a fantastic cause. It was great to see that my love of cooking and social action could be turned into an event for students to really enjoy.
Emma Spitzer mentioned: 'It was lovely to meet such enthusiastic students with real creativity and passion. The winning team had the edge with their unusual flavour pairings and delicious mandelbrot, they seemed to push the boundaries a bit more - but it was a very close contest!'
Brianna Sommer, of Edinburgh J-Soc said: The cook off was a quarter cup of exhaustion, 1 cup banter, a third of a cup embodying all top MasterChefs and a dash of chutzpah. Thanks to UJS for this event, and now Edinburgh J-Soc can hang up our knives like trophies.'
Sophie Willet, of Kent J-Soc said: 'I thoroughly enjoyed participating with my team, meeting new friends, and learning more Jewish dishes. I will definitely be adding them to my repertoire!'