Olivia’s FB message never reached my inbox. It had gone straight to my junk mail, which I checked that day only because of some divine intervention inside my head. The message read:
“CONGRATS! GOURMET MASTERCLASS WINNER!
Hi Neenu, We thought your tip for cooking the perfect steak was spot-on and would like to invite you to join the pros at Prime Steakhouse, The Meydan Hotel on Tuesday, 23 October from 8.45am to 2pm. Please confirm your attendance by Sunday, 21 October. – Gourmet Editor, Olivia.”
If I had missed that message, like any sane foodie would have done, I’d have sued facebook. And made them get me another slot in that masterclass, by hook or crook!
The competition itself was pretty simple. Put in a tip for cooking the perfect steak. Being a novice in the kitchen zone myself, as much as I wanted to win the contest, I could think of only the most basic of tips. To bring the meat to room temperature before actually cooking it! Well, it must be that the selection committee at Ahlan!Gourmet believed in getting the basics right, before turning the hill over- they picked me as one of their 10 winners!
The prize was much more that a cookery class. It was an opportunity to step into a professional kitchen of a 5 star restaurant inside a world famous hotel, located in one of the most glamorous cities in the world. It was a chance to see for yourself the game behind the scenes; the planning behind the cuts; the heat behind the sauces. It was, in short, a privilege to wear the Chef’s hat for a day.
With a delicious breakfast waiting for us at The Meydan Hotel’s Millennium Lounge, the kickoff was ‘burp’fect. Once the croissants and fresh fruits were taken care of, we were escorted to THE Kitchen of Prime Steakhouse by Chef Guenter and Chef Eric with Olivia and Kenny from the Ahlan! Team close behind, evidently as excited as us! The sanitation part was adhered to, the aprons were tied and the chef hats were placed. We were ready for the masterclass.
While Chef Eric took a group of 5 from us for the Cheese tasting and study section upstairs in the Prime Steakhouse, 5 of us remained below with Chef Guenter at the kitchen to watch, do and learn a thing or two from the Pro. The menu for the day stunned me and realization dawned that I didn’t know what half of the ingredients were.
Starter: Traditional Steak Tartar Melba toast, anchovies, capers, shallots
Main course: Roasted Venison Spätzle, Creamy Savoy Cabbage, poached pear and Cranberry sauce
Dessert: Apple Beignet Cinnamon and vanilla mascarpone with Walnut ice cream
Nevertheless, the venison, which is a game meat, was brought to the table, where we learned to cut, slice and prep it.
We marveled at the chef’s speed with which he chopped it into cute little pieces, mixed it with the shallots, capers and so on and formed it to a patty. Tasting the steak tartar was a novel experience for me, as I’m the kind who has her steak medium well, at the most, if not well done. Having said that, it tasted juicy with the flavors blending wonderfully well.
Next, the batter for the Spatzle was beaten with a speed that can put a professional drummer to shame, and the anecdote of Chef Guenter’s 80 odd year old mother being able to do it without breaking a sweat, made me secretly swear I’ll work out more often. We played around with 3 ways of making the spatzle- the traditional style with the board and knife, the button style and the long drop style (I admit I have forgotten the actual name of the styles!).
The savoy cabbage was the prettiest thing in the kitchen. It was of the most vibrant green color, fresh and fantastic looking. The cabbage was chopped, the secrets of the filling were revealed by the Chef and the parcels were created by us, one at a time. The techniques were intriguing to say the least.
Further came the dessert. Chef Guenter guided us as we worked our way with the batter for the Apple Beignet. I saw apples being fried for the first time and I added the recipe to my mental list of easy party desserts!
Before we knew it, our adventure in the kitchen had come to an end, and while the other group took over, we joined Chef Eric to learn about the different cheeses, and more importantly, to taste them and lick them clean!
There were about 7 different types namely, Maroilles fermier, Blue De Auverne, Delice de St. Cyr, Camembert, Tomme de Savoie, Maroilles fermier and Chabichou. Learning the origin, the texture and the history of these cheeses, was admittedly not too interesting for me as I got busy spreading them over the fresh breads and munching them down quite adventurously.
In the end, there was the amazing lunch session, as we gathered around one of the large tables in Prime Steakhouse, taking in its exquisite interiors and elegance. The chefs as well as Ahlan!Gourmet team joined us in waiting for lunch to be served- those same dishes we had the privilege of chopping, scooping and caressing back in the kitchen! With the strokes of professionalism worked on its presentation, each dish looked incredibly perfect to the eyes, and tasted impeccably succulent to the mouth.
As I scraped away the last bits of the Apple Beignet, I decided to get those precious pictures with the MasterChefs clicked. That, and some very friendly goodbyes and handshakes from the Chefs and others later, I collected the rather generous parting gifts from The Meydan Hotel and headed out towards the main doors to hail a cab. Somehow, it was well past 3pm, and yet, I could not help but wish to be able to sneak around a little more in that incredible, mayhem of a kitchen and learn a trick or two about the art of cooking food, the Prime Steakhouse way!
A walking epitome of food-lust, permanently craving for chicken, cheese & chocolates of all and every form. A marketing and content writing professional living in Dubai with my husband, who has learnt to be the perfect side-kick in food explorations around the world. If you find me raiding the fridge at ungodly hours, I'm just inspiring my tummy.
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