Monday, 04/04/2011 09:55

Ambassadors fulfil gastronomic mission

Masterchef: Pakistan's ambassador Shahid MG Kiani takes care of his food creation at the Ambassadors Cooking Contest. He was awarded the title ‘Top Chef'. — VNS Photo Thuy Hang

Masterchef: Pakistan's ambassador Shahid MG Kiani takes care of his food creation at the Ambassadors Cooking Contest. He was awarded the title ‘Top Chef'. — VNS Photo Thuy Hang

HA NOI — Pakistan's Ambassador Shahid MG Kiani has won the title Top Chef in a charity cooking contest gathering six ambassadors on Saturday night in Ha Noi.

Organised by the Italian restaurant Mediterraneo, the charity contest featured the ambassadors of Austria, Argentina, Italy, Pakistan, Spain, and Venezuela.

In their new roles as gastronomic envoys, donning with chef's whites, the diplomatic representatives prepared their dishes for more than 150 guests.

Austria's Ambassador Georg Heindl presented the Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese escalope served with lightly fried potatoes, his children's favourite dish.

"They prefer my escalope more than the one made by my wife," he said.

Asked if it a complicated recipe, he said: "It makes no difference how many people you cook."

The "smoky" Chimichurri – charcoal grilled tenderloin and sausage, by Ambassador Alberto Jaime Kaminker, was a BBQ dish from his native Argentina. However it was the chimichurri sauce – featuring a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, paprika, bay leave, tomato, onion, and garlic, which provided the unique twist for the dish.

Kaminker revealed his secret to have the perfect chimichurri: "The most important thing is to maintain a low heat all the time during 35-45 minutes otherwise the meat will get dry."

He also gave the tips for those who want to try his recipe: "Don't try this dish if you do not have time."

Kaminker said the famous char-grilled beef was one of the reasons why Argentina has the world's highest consumption rate of beef, at 65kg a year per capita.

Italian Ambassador Lorenzo Angeloni came up with his "fusion" Carbonara Spaghetti. Besides using other traditional ingredients, Angeloni added asparagus and mint to the spaghetti, adding a dash of individual flair.

Spanish Ambassador Fernando Curcio Ruigomez presented paella – Spanish rice with chicken, an eye-catching dish with green peas, red peppers and yellow rice. He also topped the paella pan with a star made from asparagus.

"That is the Vietnamese star," he explained to the guests.

According to Ruigomez, the must-have ingredients of the paella include saffron that creates the typical yellow colour for the rice, and olive oil that adds to the depth of flavour.

Ruigomez only took only half hour to complete his rice dish, not surprising considering the paella is something any Spaniard can make.

Venezuela's Ambassador Jorge Rondon Uzcategui came up with a recipe that he learnt from his father – Stewed Curry Goat, with coconut milk, green olives, potatoes and curry.

Although the recipe originally comes from the eastern region of Venezuela, "you can taste the other culinary influences, including Indian, Spanish, Italian and Amerindian (original Venezuela people)", he said.

Asian cuisine was represented by Noni's Chicken Yogurt Karahi, a creation of Pakistan Ambassador Shahid MG Kiani.

He seemed totally confident as he had practiced cooking the dish twice before the contest. "That is a recipe from my wife, that's why I needed to practice," he said.

To cook the chicken, Kiani used 12 different spices, including coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, black pepper, garlic and ginger paste. The dish won praise from the judges.

"Master chef of France" Didier Corlou, said the judges voted for the chicken karahi by Pakistani Ambassador thanks to its lightly spicy taste and unique flavour.

"I was also impressed by his display of different spices that he used for the dish," Corlou, who is also a member of Culinary Academy France, said.

The judging panel also praised the other contestants for their presentations.

The VND88,000 million (nearly US$4,200) in proceeds from the event will be donated to the Little Tigers, a non-profit organisation that supports disabled children in Chuc Son in suburban Ha Noi's Chuong My District.

The award-winning recipe will be revealed in this week's Sunday Viet Nam News edition. — VNS

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