Business development chef, Andy Aston competed in the ultimate industry cook-off ‘Ready Steady Speciality – A Plant Based Special’ at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, held at Olympia in Kensington.
The contest, held in the venue’s Savour the Flavour theatre, saw Andy go head to head against fellow industry chef consultant Steve Walpole. In front of a lively audience, both chefs had 45 minutes to plan and prepare as many appetising vegan dishes as possible, using a selection of mystery plant-based ingredients. Ingredients included celery salt, coconut oil, mango syrup, Scottish seaweed rapeseed oil and Amadei Tuscan chocolate.
To add to the pressure, the audience were given a supporting role tasting each of the dishes that Andy and Steve created. The exciting but intense competition saw the final dishes of the competition judged by the audience. Receiving the loudest cheers and having cooked the most dishes, Andy was crowned the winner.
Andy’s winning menu consisted of:
– Radish, root vegetables, watermelon, mango and tomato consommé
– Linseed crackers
– Spiced cranberry falafel using teff flour, served with cucumber and tofu puree
– Teff porridge using coconut milk, warm summer berries, mango and lime
– Raw and cooked salad of beetroot and tofu finished with tomato, dried black olive and basil dressing
Andy said: “People often have different interpretations of what plant-based eating is and what is it all about. For me personally, plant-based eating is about a change in culture and how we talk about and write our menus and recipes throughout the changing seasons. Fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and flowers are all around us and by developing and creating new recipes and food cultures, this style of eating will long continue.
“It was great to see so many people participate in the live cooking, it shows that there is a keen interest to learn more about plant-based diets and the nutritional benefits. I’ve never been involved in a ready, steady, cook competition before, especially not knowing any of the ingredients beforehand, it took me out of my comfort zone which was great and hopefully, Steve and I gave a small insight into what can be achieved with a selection of everyday and speciality ingredients”.