Often, we think something is easy, until it is time to put our money where our mouth is. For me, cooking is a skill that I (thought) I had, so imagine my surprise when the Corporate Practice Group hosted a Mystery Basket Cook Off for the Summer Associates, where we were given random ingredients and told to create a meal off the top of our heads. If you are anything like myself, you are usually the type of person who decides what to cook, AND THEN you purchase the necessary ingredients. It is a completely different story when you are provided ingredients and instructed to create a delicious meal.

(L to R David Resnick, Ariana Wagner, Savannah Bergeron, Megan Barney and Erin Stafford)

We arrived at the Miami Dade Culinary Institute, split into four teams, and were off to the kitchen to cook a meal that would be judged by three top chefs at the institute. The catch: surprise ingredients, no recipes, and no Google!

When we entered the kitchen, each station had a basket full of vegetables, couscous, steak, and shrimp. Each team had 75 minutes to work together to produce a recipe using those ingredients. Here is what each team made:

(L to R Jessica Buchsbaum, Ridgana Bonne-Annee and Aaron Finkel)

Team 1: bacon-wrapped filet, shrimp scampi, manchego couscous, sautéed mushrooms, and a garden salad.
Team 2: filet on top of a bed of couscous, mushrooms, a zesty shrimp salad, and potato leek soup.
Team 3: filet, leek mashed potatoes, a kale carrot slaw, and a couscous and shrimp stir-fry.
Team 4: filet on top of a bed of broth-infused couscous, side of shrimp, and a tomato salad.

Finally, it was time to put our dishes to the test. The judges tasted our dishes and returned with commentary and critiques. Thankfully, we ate dinner that was cooked by the REAL chefs because the critique was of enough influence to encourage you to take a break away from the kitchen. In the end, Team 1 took home the championship (it may have had something to do with the bacon that mysteriously appeared on the plate).

Even though that was not my team, I still felt like a winner on the inside because the team-building aspect and friendly banter was priceless. However, if it’s one thing this event taught me, it’s that my favorite thing to make for dinner should be reservations.

(L to R Alex Haller and Alani Fraga)