A couple of weeks before, our office held an event – La Cucina – a “No Fire, No Heat” cookery competition. Teams of 3 members had to nominate themselves and prepare any number dishes within an hour without using fire or heat in any form.
On the last day for nominations, out of nowhere my friends Joseph (aka Joe), Dinesh and I decided to “file our nominations”. We desperately needed a team name and a theme. We decided to prepare some nut and fruit recipes and called our team the Chipmunks. (After Alvin and the Chipmunks)
The competition was right after Election Day, giving us 1 full day to prepare. In our case it was 1 full day to sleep and while away time (after casting our vote, of course!). The only preparation we did was to Google some recipes later that night. But Joe had called upon his friend, who has studied catering, for some ideas.
Thursday – competition day. Ideas on recipes to prepare - I came to office with a few; Joe had lots; Dinesh had just one idea – to run away.
There was not much work for any of us (same as the last few weeks) and we sat down to discuss and plan. Joe was his usual self - started babbling – he suggested that we prepare some 6 or 7 dishes with some ice cream, milk shakes. Dinesh and I quickly plugged his mouth and brought him back to reality. I made one point clear – We cannot impress by making tasty food; if at all we had a chance, it is by a clean presentation. After some sensible discussion we settled with the following items to prepare:
Cheese Balls using nut powder.
A lemon drink with some mint
A decorative vegetable salad
A fruit salad
We went out shopping during lunch. The weather was considerate enough to not give us sunstroke, but was so mean to take us to the verge of it. We came back poorer, tired and drenched in sweat. But the competition was in the evening, so we just had some time to prepare some pamphlets. I prepared a menu card, giving our dishes some names and some goofy “facts” about chipmunks.
Pulling out sufficient copies of our menu and wearing our backpacks loaded with groceries and fruits, we entered the arena. The event organizers verified our ingredients list – the rules do not permit any alcohol, pre-cut vegetables/fruits etc.
Dinesh and I started with the mint cooler and cheese balls leaving our Michelangelo (Joe) to carve and sculpt his masterpiece. I constantly kept cleaning our table and ensured we did not make a mess. Joe was unstoppable as he went on to prepare the fruit salad.
We then cleared the table and just when we had the last 10 minutes, started laying the table cloth, napkins and the silverware and started arranging the dishes. Our presentation looked really good.
A few of our colleagues took a lot of photographs, but we later realized that these people had taken valiant efforts to portray their consummate skills in blurred photography.
Below is our menu and a photograph.