Thursday, May 15, 2008


Dorky hat, huh?

Last week I was required to participate in a little cooking contest with 28 other chefs. We worked in teams of three. My team took the bronze medal. Considering what the judges said, and what the guests said about our dish at the reception afterwards, I know we had the best tasting dish that day. But as with many things...there's more to it than that.

Anyway, congrats to all the chefs that competed. They all worked hard!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! What was the dish if i may ask?

Sheena said...

Congrats Marko!! I'm sure you did well... after 4 years of Aramark Cooking, I wish YOU were a chef at my university!! He he!! Thinking of you from the land down under! xxoo

Livingston Cooks said...


We prepared a salmon dish from the competition. We were basically black boxing for the competition and we drew salmon.

I led the team in the direction we took in that I wanted to smoke the salmon on the stove top before cooking it. Before smoking, I prepared a simple syrup with sugar and water and cooked it out with lemon and lime peels. Once it was thick enough, I steeped a few bags of black tea into it and this was all cooled down in an ice bath and became a marinade for the salmon to soak in for about 3 hours.

Once the salmon was marinated, I smoked it on the stove over cedar and black tea. It was beautifully sweet and sticky from the marinade and the smoke was perfect!

When the smoking was completed, I hit the salmon with some sea salt and I glazed it under the salamander. It was just cooked.

Anyway...smoking the salmon was a pretty aggressive move and we kicked ass with the flavor and presentation of our dish. We lost points in the kitchen because the chef who skinned the salmon left a little flesh on the skin of the first fillet he cleaned. He quickly switched knives and the rest were very clean, but the judge saw the first skin and deducted points. One of the other chefs had a bag of sugar on the counter and lost points because of that too. He should have gone to the storage room and drawn his sugar and returned to the table with what he needed. And I lost points for our team for walking from my station to cut some butcher's twine with a pairing knife in my hand. I should have gone to get the string, cut it at my table and then returned it to where it belonged. I went to cut what I needed because it is a more logical thing to do.

Oh well....rules are rules!

Anyway, we would have gotten at least silver were it not for those infractions. Our dish was the best hands down.

But having said all of that, I must say that I don't care. I was there merely to participate and placing was not even a concern.

Working in teams requires compromise and I had to take the other chef's ideas into consideration even though some of the ideas weren't what I would have liked. At the end of the day, however, we pulled off a good showing and we had the tastiest dish (according to 120 people eating it)so I am happy. My team did very well!


Livingston Cooks said...


Aramark is cafeteria as you know. I work at Eaton Hall which is a fine dining component managed by Aramark. I know the food Aramark produces in in universities and colleges comes under fire frequently, but I won't comment on that. All you have to know is that your Uncle Marko is still the wizard he always has been with food and that will never change regardless of where I may work.

When you get to Toronto, Lola and I will have you over and I'll cook for you. Also, we'll take you out to eat and I think we should go to Lula Lounge for some drinks and salsa dancing to some hot live Salsa. You'll LOVE it!!

Kaitlin and Garret are coming to spend the long weekend with Lola and I. I'm picking them up in a few hours! I'm so happy!!!!

When are you arriving?


Sheena said...

Ahh, I didn't realise that Eaton Hall was owned by Aramark, their name sure gets around. And the fact that you work in the fine dining part makes Aramark's name stand out a bit better for me! I never doubted that! Yes, the uni Aramark experience was a good one at that and I suppose I cannot complain as I loaded my card with $100 and got $1000 credit one year.... great for a student budget!!!

I get home July 14th and I am very much looking forward to a dinner and dancing with yourself and Lola... cannot wait to meet the kiddies either!!

Until next time!! I always enjoy reading your blog!

Livingston Cooks said...


Actually, Eaton Hall is not owner by is operated by Aramark. Seneca College owns the property and Aramark has the contract with Seneca College for the students. Eaton Hall is operated separately as an inn and conference center.

Anyway...we'll see you when you get back to T.O.