In the first part of these guides I’ll be offering up my suggestions on how to make sure you score highly in the field of ‘Ingredients’.
1. Find ingredients that are unique to where you are from. You’re coming from a region so you’re representing that part of the world. There’s no point coming from China and doing American food or coming from Ireland and doing American food. It has to be more than just a really tasty dish so you’re constantly trying to link back - link it back to you or your region. My dish was all about Barley and fermented hay was used to represent the broken elements of Guinness.
2. Think about seasonality - you’re entering at the beginning of the year but the final will be in October. I was lucky because Celeriac was a good ingredient to use. Your regional heats will be between May and mid August - so keep this in mind when making decisions.
3. Quality is important. Whatever you pick it has to be the best of that ingredient. Be it beef, or fish - it has to be the best. The young chef from Norway brought salmon from Norway because he wanted to serve fresh Norwegian salmon, the Australian chef brought Wagyu from his country - it’s good to be able to come from wherever you are in the world and say this is what we have.
4. Be different but not for the sake of being different. You have to be different with a very clever piece of cooking, you’re going to compete with thousands of other chefs and there has to be something in the mind of the judges that sets you apart.
5. It has to be a really tasty dish - it’s common sense but all of the above is irrelevant if it doesn’t taste amazing.