Diplomats cook up a storm

Published: 04/04/2010 05:00



Between the sizzling pans, knives clocking wooden cutting boards and the clattering of crockery, six diplomatic representatives in white chef hats and aprons bent . . .

What goes with sauerkraut? The Pakistani Ambassador (left), the Brazilian Ambassador (right) and the Belgian Ambassador (second right) congratulate the German Ambassador (second left) after he is announced as the Top Chef on Saturday night.

In their new roles as gastronomic envoys, they presented their credentials to around 125 guests.

Belgium Ambassador Herbert Cooreman came up with a Gentse Waterzooi of Chicken – a mix of braised chicken and vegetable soup.

Cooreman said he spent two hours preparing the broth in advance because the keys to a flavourful waterzooi were the chicken and the chicken broth. It was best to use a stewing chicken, he said, because it created a more flavourful liquid. Together with fine chopped vegetables, including carrot, leek, chervil, celery and potatoes plus parsley and thyme, the hot dish was a sublime ensemble.

One of the best known dishes in Belgium, it proved popular, judging by the number of guests clustered around his steaming table in the overcrowd venue.

For Italian Ambassador Andrea Perugini’s part, he seemed totally confident in his Meat Lasagne, which he said he had been able to cook since he was 14 years old.

“Each region has its own way of cooking this dish,” he said. “However, my recipe is from central Italy and I learnt it with my heart from my mother.”

There was no special secret to the recipe, except “you need experience in preparation”, he said.

Brazilian Ambassador Joao De Mendonca Lima Net presented Vatapa a Bahiana – a seacooking stew with coconut milk – and by tasting the creamy yellow paste served with steamed sticky rice, lightly sprinkled with a pinch of dried chilli, guests were imbued with the enthusiasm of his nation.

Swedish Ambassador Rolf Bergman came up with his favourite recipe: Italian Salmon with a Swedish Touch.

“I like working in the kitchen and I often cook for my family in Stockholm,” he said. “All my family’s member praise this dish, especially my sons.”

Asked what was the Swedish ingredient in the recipe, Bergman said mischievously: “It’s me, the Swedish touch.”

Asian cuisine was represented by Chicken Karah, a spicy blend from Pakistani Ambassador Shahid M.G. Kiani that tested the taste buds.

While dessert was Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce, the popular entry of German Ambassador Rolf Schulze.

“I hesitated,” Schulze said. “I didn’t think I could join the contest until I’d found this recipe, which is from the Bavaria region in the south of German.

“I was quite nervous during the contest when I looked around at my counterparts, who are so good at cooking.”

Schulze said the most important step in preparing the dish was the dough.

“It has to be paper-thin, but you cannot break it.”

But Schulze’s nervousness proved to be unfounded. He was awarded the Top Chef title by the sponsors’ judging panel which assessed each dish’s appearance, taste, originality and difficulty.

The VND60-million (US$3,000) proceeds from the event will be donated to the Birla Orphane Village in the capital.

The award-winning recipe will be revealed in the Sunday Viet Nam News edition.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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