The last round of Walmer Park Kitchen Maestro, before the semi-final cook-offs start, saw school girl, Caitlin Botha, walk off with top spot last Saturday.
Cook-off 4 mentoring chef, Mark Oosthuizen, set the bar high for the five hopeful home cooks, who chose ingredients from a mystery box filled with the unexpected.
Fushin’s Oosthuizen selected scallops for the mystery box; a key ingredient used at the restaurant, to which he added back bacon, linguini pasta, parmesan cheese – and fresh cream.
Contestants Caitlin Botha, Morne Du Preez, Ken Cooper, Chantel Cuthbert and Heidi Reid, all feeling a bit intimidated by their well-known mentoring chef, each had 45 minutes to conceptualise– and finish off – a dish using the mystery box of ingredients.
Afterwards they had to present it to judges Muse Restaurant chef Allen Bezuidenhout, Lerm Baskurt from Kitchen Maestro sponsor, The Rocket Seed and Oosthuizen.
Victoria Park High School Grade 11 pupil, Botha, 17, stunned the judges with her creativity and natural cooking talent, presenting to them seared scallops cooked in butter and bacon fat, served on top of a roasted red pepper linguini pasta, topped with crispy bacon and garnished with fresh spring onion and parmesan cheese.
Oosthuizen said of Botha: “It is clear that Caitlin has a passion for cooking and at such a young age she has a bright future ahead of her in the kitchen.
“The scallops were cooked perfectly, the dish was well-seasoned and each element complemented each other”.
Botha was up against Du Preez, a 45 -year-old police officer with more than 20- years’ experience in the police force. He presented the judges with mushroom-infused linguini pasta (the pasta was cooked in mushroom water) and he finished off the pasta with fresh mushrooms, spinach and onion and served it with garlic butter scallops (served in the shells) topped with crispy bacon as a garnish.
At the end of the cook-off there was a clear winner and according to the judges’s scores teenager, Botha, deserved to progress to the semifinals. “Caitlin presented an amazing dish, presentation, flavour and her creative use of the ingredients was outstanding; this was a restaurant quality dish” said Rocket Seed’s Nicole.
Caitlin will cook-off alongside Cook-off 1 winner, Liza Vermaak, Cook-off 2’s Ronel Annandale and Cook-off 3 winner, Charmain Keevy, in the semi-finals of the Kauai Superfoods Challenge next Saturday at 11am .
The top two semi-final winners move on to cook in the finals next Sunday, also at 11am.
The 2016 Kitchen Maestro competition winner will walk away with prizes to the value of R28 000.