Head chef at Said Business School, Gemma Bridges competed in the third B&I StrEAT Food Awards, held at Islington Metal Works in London.
The contest saw Gemma go head to head against 16 finalists, each from different contract caterers, battling it out via a thrilling live cook-off.
In front of a lively audience, finalists had 55 minutes to plan and prepare three appetising and innovative street food dishes. In round one, chefs had to create a vegan dish of their choice and round two was the technical, where the chefs had to use one ingredient from each sponsor. Ingredients included tortilla wraps, Joe’s chicken and black beans. The final round saw chefs race against the clock as they cooked their signature dish.
Gemma’s dishes included:
‘Simply Plants’ – chia and sesame seed quorn, purple sprouting broccoli, pak choi, chilli, spring onion, toasted peanuts and a lime and ponzu dressing.
Quesadillas with black beans, avocado, Mediterranean vegetables, Joe’s lemon chicken and a cashew nut, lime and chilli alioli.
Buns ‘N’ Roses mushroom, chickpea and beef burger in a homemade brioche and sesame bun, pickled candied beets and triple cooked chips.
To add to the pressure, the audience were given a supporting role tasting each of the dishes created by the chefs. The exciting but intense competition saw the final dishes of the competition judged by 17 industry-expert judges.
The only female chef competing, Gemma wowed the judging panel with her signature Buns’N’Roses burger, inspired by her love of seasonal produce and plant-based protein. The candy, golden and red beetroot were sourced from B&G nurseries in the Vale of Evesham and the pak choi was grown in Offenham.
As a graduate of the Level 4 Chef Academy and a key driver behind the Food Equilibrium ‘EQ’ Project, Gemma’s vision was to create a dish where the grains and vegetables were the stars of the plate, with a focus on the benefit they provide our bodies.
Commenting on the day, Gemma said: “Competing in the StrEAT Food Awards was a great experience. The atmosphere was amazing, I met some fantastic people within our industry and tasted some delicious street food. I’ll definitely be entering again next year!”
Dishes were judged on creativity, preparation, condiments, presentation, flavour, texture, quality and food hygiene standards.