Sometimes I find myself in weird and wonderful situations and wonder how I ever got there. Such was how I felt recently when I arrived at chef Andrew Rudd’s private dining venue, Medley, to serve a dish for him, John Torode (UK Masterchef judge) and Ross Golden-Bannon (editor Food&WINE Magazine) in the final of 3’s search for Ireland’s best fish dish.
I stumbled across the competition on-line and the prospect of winning a trip to the Cliff House and also getting to meet all the esteemed judges caught my attention straight away! I had made a little fishy dishy already that month that had proved quite popular and so entered that into the competition on a whim, and then immediately forgot about it. Until I got a call from 3. It went something like this:
Friendly girl from 3: “You’re in the final of our All You Can Eat Fish competition in 2 days which is going to be judged by John Torode, Andrew Rudd and Ross Golden-Bannon. Congratulations!”
Me (out loud): “”Oh great”
Me (in my head): “I am going to puke!”
Had I really thought I had a chance, I probably would have given my dish more thought and entered something a little more sophisticated. Not that I don’t love my Creamy Lemon and Caper Mixed Fish Salad, because I do. I just wasn’t sure John Torode would love it as much as I do! With my cooking I always try to make delicious dishes that are really simple to make, and don’t take much time. And I don’t fit the slaving-away-under-time-pressure, plating-up-in-a-fit-of-sweats stereotype. But alas, I was thrilled to be a finalist and excited to take part, so decided not to worry, and just do my thing.
Anyway upon entering Medley, I met my other fellow finalist, Hugh. After chatting to him for a while, I felt pretty relaxed about the whole situation. Andrew Rudd and his team were there also to help us set up, and they were so genuinely lovely that I was quite looking forward to the whole thing kicking off and starting to cook!
The only thing I was really nervous about, was that as my dish was so quick and easy to make, that it really only takes about 20 minutes to make. We had an hour head to head to cook…. It was a challenge, but I was determined to cook/make everything as slowly as humanely possible in order to try and make myself look busy. Have you ever spent 10 minutes slicing bread before? I have. And I can tell you, it’s not easy to cut bread that slowly.
What helped me pass the hour however, was chats with the lovely Ketty from French Foodie in Dublin, who came along to support. Also helping was a glass or two or white wine, however this did also cement a reputation of me being a lush (which was entirely untrue) as of course I had my glass in hand every time the judges were around. It was probably the glass or two of wine in my hand that made me decide to make a few friendly jokes with John Torode when he came over to my work station. The jokes about me hoping to avoid the looks of disgust he sometimes gives on Masterchef when tasting an unpleasant dish were not however found as hilarious as I might have thought, and alas, John Torode is not my new BFF.
While I didn’t win, it was a great experience and lots and lots of fun. Hugh, the winner, has a seafood stall in the Dalkey farmer’s market where he sells fresh fish and also pre-prepared fish dishes, and I would recommend trying his stuff if you are out that direction. He also sells delicious fresh crab meat which is hard to find readily available in Dublin City.
On a side note. If you have been reading and enjoying my blog posts over the last year since I began my blog, the Irish Blog Awards are now open for nominations, and if you would consider nominating me, I would greatly appreciate it.
*All photos taken by the talented Richie Stokes on behalf of 3 Ireland.