Dubai Knowledge Park and the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai have announced the winners of the inaugural Pasta & Pie Mystery Box Competition, a cooking and baking challenge for amateur chefs.
Selected contestants were tasked with cooking their best pasta dish or dessert pie in three hours based on the ingredients in their respective mystery boxes during a live cook-off in Dubai. The pressure was on, with a dozen contestants going head-to head in the amateur cooking challenge. Each winner was awarded ICCA-certified culinary classes worth AED 16,000 and a certification for their respective culinary technique, while the runners-up won AED 1,500 in cooking classes and a personalised course each.
Following a gruelling selection process, each contestant was given a mix of fresh ingredients in a mystery box which they had to use to make a pasta or pie dish. The mystery box for pasta contained red and yellow capsicums, portobello mushrooms and asparagus. The mystery pie box contained bananas, kiwis and cape gooseberry.
The competition was first announced in October and received more than 100 entries from across the UAE. A selection of 12 cooking and baking enthusiasts were then shortlisted to be part of the final live showdown held at the ICCA centre at Dubai Knowledge Park on 21 November. The initiative was set up to promote professional culinary skills and standards in the UAE, while recognising emerging talent in the industry.
Commenting on the contest, Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of Dubai Knowledge Park, says: “We launched this new competition in collaboration with our business partner ICCA Dubai to sharpen the skills of promising cooks, provide a unique platform to come together in a safe and competitive environment and separate the patisserie pros from the gnocchi novices. The 12 entrants certainly turned up on the heat on judges during the live cook-off and left us with no easy decisions in selecting the winners. We would like to extend our congratulations to all the winners and runners-up, and commend ICCA for its world-class professional and personal culinary training expertise which it provides from our business community.”
The winners and runners-up for the competition were split two apiece across the pasta and pie categories. In the pasta category, André Cordina was named winner with Ruchi the runner-up. Ahmed Sadik picked up top honours in the pie category, with Naima Albastaki coming in second place.
A panel – comprised of Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director, Dubai Knowledge Park; Chef Alessandro Miceli, Executive Chef, Roberto’s Italian Restaurant; Shanaaz Raja, Director of Courses, ICCA Dubai; Chef Uwe Micheel, Vice President WorldChefs & President Emirates Culinary Guild; and Hesa Khalifa Al Khalifa, Food Blogger & Founder of Kuisines Magazine – came together to choose the winning dishes, based on several criteria that included theme, creativity, skills and technique, presentation, flavour, and more.