The Pixar film Ratatouille famously stated, “Anyone can cook.” After attending the Mystery Basket Cook-Off Challenge with the Land Use Department at the Miami-Dade Culinary Institute, I can confirm that at least anyone at Bilzin Sumberg can cook truly delicious food, even under the pressure of a time limit, fierce competition, a large commercial kitchen, and a whole basket of mystery ingredients.
Before the cooking competition began, we were placed into four teams made up of a mix of summer associates, associates, and partners and enjoyed refreshments as the professional chefs at the Miami-Dade Culinary Institute explained the rules of our competition. We’d have 75 minutes to cook and plate one “surf-and-turf” style dish using a cut of steak, a salmon filet, and other vegetables and grains found in a Mystery Basket. At the end, we’d be judged by the chefs on the taste and flavor of the food, the presentation of our food on the dish, and the cleanliness of our work station, with one team crowned winner of the challenge.
The 75 minutes in the kitchen flew by. Every team was hustling and bustling around the kitchen, and above the sounds of chopping, roasting, sizzling, and sautéing, I heard plenty of laughs and good conversation, too. Before we knew it, it was time to plate our dishes, explain to the chefs what we made, and let the chefs decide which team made the best meal.
In truth, all teams made what looked to be truly delicious dishes, and each team really sold their dish when it was time to describe what they made to the chefs, using descriptions like delectable, flavorful, perfectly crisped, and more. Team 1, comprised of Javier Aviñó, Sarah Carraher, Isa Durand, Elise Gerson, and Sanika Nanda, even made a “complimentary” dessert to go with their dish! But, in the end, only one team emerged victorious: Team 3, comprised of myself, Skye Jackson, David Jessup, Diana Mendez, and Andrés Rivero.
I can confirm as part of Team 3 that victory certainly tasted sweet; but even sweeter than that was the laughter shared at the dinner table and the memories made so far this summer at Bilzin Sumberg.