Ten VOC staff were literally feeling the heat on Sunday, as they battled it out in front of a stove, to be the ultimate Cook Off winner. The competition was a big draw card at VOC’s first Family Day at Ratanga Junction, which kicked off at 11am shortly after the official opening. The Cook Off won the smiles of spectators as popular VOC personalities and behind-the-scenes staff, tried their hand at competitive cooking live on air.
Five teams of two contestants were pitted against each other: Saturday Live presenters Mogammad Zain Majiet and Fadiel Toefy, Shopping Basket presenters Waseema Amlay and Shireen Fisher, VOC producer Quanita Kamaar and Nadia Slamang, presenter Mogammat Fasiegh Petersen and journalist Nailah Cornelissen, along with Kamal Salasa teamed up with wife Nafeesah Kherekar.
All the contestants were given the same set of ingredients which included chicken fillets, canned tomato mix, canned fruit salad and pre-boiled egg noodles. Contestants came up with unique recipes and dishes reflecting their respective personalities. Some went with a Moroccan theme while others stuck by the tried and tested Cape Malay style of cooking.
And while they were limited in terms of ingredients, they also had to contend with the critical eye of judges: professional chef Anwar Henkeman, guest chef Shameema and Nabiela Debeur of Rhodes Quality Foods.
Fadiel described his experience as “intimidating” as Capetonian Hotel Head Chef, Anwar Henkeman tasted the dishes. But Mogammat Zain kept a cool, calm head while the judges deliberated.
According to Chef Henkeman, the contestants were judged on the unique style of each dish, cleanliness, team work, final presentation and the use of ingredients. Kamal and Nafeeesah worried about overall presentation; with the mom-to-be admitting the competition was tough.
“This was much more than I anticipated,” she said.
On the other end of the stage, Shireen and her partner, Waseema were seen crunching fruit and biscuits in one hand in an attempt to create something unique and tasty. Aesthetically, Shireen agreed it didn’t quite look the way they had intended.
“This is Waseema’s idea of experimenting,” Shireen said cheerfully.
Nailah admitted she was completely hopeless in the kitchen and was surprised when they came third.
“We really did what ever we could with what we had. And how we managed to keep our space so clean is beyond me. It was very challenging!”
After a lot of deliberation and some suspense, the judges agreed the competition was tough. Waseema and Shireen came in fifth place, Kamal and Nafeesah in fourth, third place went to Nailah and Mogammat Fasiegh, Mogammat Zain and Fadiel came in at a close second, with Quanita and Nadia taking first place.
The winning recipe was a tomato chilli noodle dish with a tropical trifle for desert. The judges based their decision on the team’s cooking time, clean working area, good knife skills, health content, presentation, aroma and taste. In the end, they had outdone the other teams in all the criteria.
“When they did the tasting and didn’t say anything, I started to panic inside. But it was loads of fun!” said Quanita.
“Because we had so little ingredients, we didn’t have much room for creativity. But we made the most of it. We had a total blast!” added Nadia.
According to Cook Off coordinator Zeriena Jacobs, she was thrown with many curveballs on the day of the event.
“With any live show, things go wrong behind the scenes. Iwas a complete stress balll. But alhamdullilah, we pulled it off.” VOC