One of the fun things I get to do in my job is to organize activities for my colleagues under the umbrella of our Sports Club. We are constantly thinking (aka "plotting") to come up with different stuff for the people to participate.
Ever since I experienced the 1st session of fun cooking at Bayan Indah with Rohani Jelani, I was hooked on that place and went back for a 2nd session a couple of months ago! As I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 outings in Bayan Indah, I then thought "why not have a culinary challenge kinda event for the Sports Club members?"
It's something they have never done before and it's an excellent activity for them to not only "bond" with each other, they also get to score points for their respective teams. The members are put in 7 teams, each named after a bird (eg Falcons, Woodpeckers, Pelicans etc) and we have activities throughout the year for them to score points for their teams. As the year end approaches, the teams are getting very hyped-up because the competition is now extremely keen - no team wants to be at the bottom of the scoreboard! Needless to say, they now welcome any kind of activity and they are all out to score the precious points for their teams.
So, to cut a long story short... when the Culinary Challenge was announced, the 16 places were grabbed very quickly, on a first-come-first-served basis.
16 eager beavers made their way to Bayan Indah in Kg Pencala on that Saturday morning. We were welcomed by some scrumptious refreshments - everyone chilled and took in the beautiful tranquility of the culinary resort before Rohani did the briefing.
Everyone paid attention and listened intently to Rohani's briefing. Some of them were not familiar with our local ingredients like galanggal or tumeric... but I'm glad to say most of them knew what ginger, garlic and onions looked like!
The 16 "up & coming cooks" were put into 4 groups. 2 groups had full members, ie 4 Pelicans and 4 Hawks and the other 2 groups were a mish-mash of different birds! After the briefing, they donned the blue denim aprons and were raring to go!
According to Rohani, her culinary sessions had always been done in a relaxed style and never "competitive". But because ours was a "challenge" among teams, she had to come up with some criteria this time as she and her team were given the task of being judges for the event. So... the criteria to base the judging came from these factors:
* Time management
* Recipe interpretation
* Cooking skills
* Food presentation
The participants only knew what they were going to cook on that day itself - to avoid any unfair advantage of prior researching, haha! Anyway, Rohani assured them that as long as they can read and follow instructions as stated on her recipes, they'd be fine :-))
Well, what do you know... even though they could all read but not everyone could follow instructions! There were lots of laughter when some things went awry but hey, worry not - Chef Rohani was all ready with contingencies - they learned how to "salvage" their dishes, make do with "Plan B" and there's always a way to "repair" your recipe, hehe!
While they were all busy in the kitchen, what did I do? Well, besides observing all the amusing antics and the different styles of teamwork they displayed, I had time to snap some pics (again!) of Bayan Indah. This place really has lots to offer, in terms of photography... it's a joy to point your camera at these...
I had lots of time to poke around Bayan Indah (hehe!) as the teams took about 3.5 hours to complete their challenge. So what did they cook? From the earlier collage above, probably you would have some idea what was coming... but take a look now at the delicious dishes they cooked...
Curry Chicken... which went well with ...
Roti Jala (2 different methods of folding the lace-like tumeric-flavoured & coloured pancake)
... and ...
Nasi Kunyit (flavoured & coloured naturally from fresh tumeric)
More to come...
Otak-otak (made in little individual bowls for fuss-free serving)
For dessert, everyone made this...
Kuih Angkoo (popular nyonya delicacy)
All 4 groups cooked the same dishes, for fair judging and Rohani & Team actually had a tough time judging them! Everyone did really well, as you can see here...
See... I told ya - just follow instructions and you CAN cook!
By 2pm, after the judges had made their rounds, everyone sat down to enjoy the fruits of their labour. From the happy faces, it's evident that they all had great fun and it was a day (half a day, actually) well spent in Bayan Indah!
From this 1st Challenge, because of the awesome feedback given to the rest, I'm happy to say that I'll be organising 2 more sessions there soon. Of course, all places have been grabbed and we're running "full house" for both upcoming sessions, yo!