Cooking enthusiasts, students in the culinary field or even restaurateurs, they are 21 pre-selected to have accepted the challenge launched by the Digital Challenge and TéléPlus, in collaboration with Tea Blenders Ltd (TBL Ltd), as part of the competition Kitchen Battle. The pre-selected auditions were held yesterday, Sunday May 8, at the premises of the Défi Training School at rue Labourdonnais in Port-Louis. The program will soon be broadcast on the Facebook page of Defimedia.info and the YouTube channel of TéléPlus. Back on this day rich in discoveries.
9:30 a.m. the pressure begins to mount for the candidates. In a few minutes they will each pass before the jury, made up of chefs Vijranand Kallooa, Avinash Cheenatur, Veerun Pillay and Ricardo Kathan. The latter are members of the Mauritian Chefs Association. A few tight smiles, shaking hands and a few drops of sweat on their foreheads, some candidates cannot hide the stress of the moment. While some are regulars at culinary competitions, others are having their first experience. Out of a hundred registrants, only thirty had been selected, but some could not answer the call on Sunday. The dishes have already been prepared at home to save time. But, they had to train them on the spot in order to bring the final touches to their new creations.
Candidates were scored on presentation, dish temperature, taste and balance of flavors, texture, suitability of the recipe, and its execution. They were also judged on their knowledge of the ingredients used and their techniques.
The final dressings are going well for the first group of pre-selected. In the distance, we can see Carleen Tse, 26, a chocolate lover who has chosen to offer a savory dish with a chocolate sauce. A perilous challenge according to the chefs, but which she was able to manage. A scent of “butter chicken” also perfumes the room. This is the dish of Deevilesh Omrawoo, 25. A telecommunications engineer by profession, he left everything behind to indulge his passion for cooking. From the height of her 17 years, Annieska Juliette presented a dish of chicken and vegetable stir-fry. The good humor of Veeramootoo Murdamootoo immediately hooked the jury. This snack manager presents a dish of breadfruit gratin. The profiles follow one another and are not alike.
These cooking enthusiasts were seduced by the taste of their dishes for some or the presentation for others. Like Kormagen Valaven, 18, and his wonderfully dressed seafood dish, or Umair Mungloo and his prawn carpaccio, or even Emmanuel Lisette, Culinary Arts student at Polytechnics Mauritius. Others, regulars of culinary competitions, but also mothers, transmitted their love in their dishes, in particular Laura Sangeeleemootoo, who treated the “brède mouroum” in several variations. Manome Curpen, 56, who has won competitions before, came up with a moussaka dish that only she has the secret to. “I didn’t come to win. The most important thing for me is to participate,” she confides.
Food vlogger Ashvin Pothano of Pothaknows was also on hand to support the contestants and chefs on the day. He will act as an influencer during the episodes.
At the end of this tasting marathon, the chefs had a lot to do to choose the sixteen best dishes. Indeed, they say they are pleasantly surprised and impressed by the level. “We saw cooking enthusiasts aged 17 to 71 pass before our eyes. We had dishes of a fairly good standard”, emphasizes Chef Veeren Pillay.
Same story with Shareemah Boolakee, Group Digital Project Manager at Defi Media Group. Since the confinement, the team has mounted no less than a hundred cooking shows. “The shows started during the 2020 confinement. We had the idea of installing a cooking studio on our premises in view of the need for entertainment for Mauritians. »
Kitchen Battle is the first show on such a large scale orchestrated by Défi Digital and TéléPlus. “We had participants of all ages and social strata. Some have overcome their shyness to participate in the contest. The show would not be possible without our partners,” says Shareemah Boolakee.
The next step will be the ‘battles’: two participants will compete in each thematic event. One of them will be eliminated and the other will reach the quarter-finals, then the two semi-finals. The two best candidates will go to the final.
This event had the support of several partners, including Tea Blenders Ltd, Batimex, Cidona, Polytechnics Mauritius, Lajawab, Soap and Allied, Canal +, AB Desai, Eagle Brand, Avsar, Winner’s, Oceamer, Unanyme, Air Mauritius, Prodigal, Mauritian Chefs Association, Club Med Albion, Les Jardins de Medine, Del Spa, Krestrel Gym, Atom Travel, Luxe Boulevard Ltd, Moroil, Polytol Paints and Lemon Yellow.