The winner of the McCain Tribute to Good Taste 2012 competition – A Taste of Royalty – was announced after a gruelling battle between the four finalists at Hostex. Ashleigh Heeger, lecturer, recipe developer and exam invigilator for Silwood School of Cookery, took the competition honours and won the R10 000 prize and a trophy.
Ashleigh, who is no stranger to winning, having won the Sunday Times Young Chef of the Year 2011 and the The 2012 Jeunes Chef Rôtisseurs Regional Competition in March, said after the announcement, “The whole competition was a wonderful experience. It took a lot of hard work, which made winning particularly exciting. I think I have the temperament for competitions as I just don’t get flustered, although I did find the time allowed for the cook-off extremely tight. I’m grateful to McCain for this opportunity to compete, but also for the chance to interact with other young chefs in South Africa.
“I have been a fan of the versatile parsnip for some years, and have spent lots of time coming up with recipes and different ways the parsnip can be used. The frozen McCain Alternatives Chunky Parsnip is excellent and is particularly suited to roasting and pureeing,” she added. Looking ahead, Ashleigh aims to travel to explore the global food scene.
The competition judges commented that the standards of entries and performance in the competition was exceptionally high – with a professional edge to it that would have made even the most veteran chef proud.
The McCain Tribute to Good Taste competition is run in partnership with the SA Chefs Association and targets creative young chefs who can produce innovative dishes using as many McCain products as possible. It was given a boost this year with a brand new logo to more clearly identify this significant competition for young chefs on the local culinary landscape, as well as an increase of the prize money to R10 000 from R7 500.
The entrants were required to create a starter, main course, and dessert for six people, with each dish incorporating the McCain Alternatives Chunky Parsnip and exuding quality, freshness, nutrition, convenience and colour – for which McCain (SA) is renowned.
The four finalists who made it through the gauntlet of entries with their unique menu entries to reach the cook-off at Hostex were Ashleigh Heeger, Kylie Debbo, whoworks for The Food Design Agency in Honeydew, Megin Meikle, whois studying at the HTA School of Culinary Art, and Phil de Villiers, sous chef at Southern Sun Hotels, Johannesburg.
Ashleigh’s menu for the competition included a parsnip and sweet corn veloute with blackened corn, crispy parsnips and a corne tuile as a starter; springbok loin rolled in black pepper with smoked parsnip puree, pomme anna, king oyster and enoki mushrooms and asparagus, served with thyme jus and garnished with a parsnip foam as the main course; and a parsnip, ginger and cinnamon parfait with caramelised ginger crumb, apple fontants, panna cotta ribbon and yoghurt foam for the dessert.
The star of the competition, the McCain Alternatives Chunky Parsnip, resembles an ivory-coloured carrot in appearance and is another innovative South African food service industry first from McCain Foods. It’s a natural addition to the McCain range of frozen potatoes and carrots, as well as the successful range of orange-coloured sweet potato chips. It forms part of McCain Foods’ ongoing quest to provide chefs with top vegetable products which serve as the inspiration behind new and exciting recipes.
The new McCain Alternatives Chunky Parsnip has a mild celery-like fragrance, rich creamy colour, sweet nutty flavour, versatility and exceptional nutritional value. It is already featuring on menus across the country – appealing to the most discerning tastes, and adding culinary class and regal appeal to five-star menus of chefs of the finest calibre in the finest establishments