Tuesday last week saw the culmination of the 2017 Rotary Algarve Schools Cookery Competition. Organised jointly by Peter Hinze of the Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) and Alan Winn of the Silves Rotary Club, the competition, now in its fourth year, began in earnest in January with teams from four schools in the Algarve, two from Agrupamento de Escolas de Silves Sul, and two teams from each of Dra Laura Ayres School in Quarteira and Escola EB 2/3 Dr António de Sousa Agostinho in Almancil.
All the participants who entered the competition are students aged 16-18 who attend a two-year catering course at their respective schools, with some being given training as waiting staff and the ones who show an interest in cooking given training as chefs.
Both the Almancil and Quarteira schools have their own restaurants which are open to the public for lunch on one or two days a week in term time offering a three-course lunch cooked and served by the students at a very modest price. Many of the students are given placements at local restaurants and hotels to help them decide whether a career in catering is for them.
A group of 10 ‘volunteer’ judges each sampled a total of 45 plates of food before awarding the final two places to a team from Algoz representing the Silves Sul group and a team from Dra Laura Ayres Quarteira.
The finals were held at the Conrad Hotel under the watchful eyes of Executive Chef Osvalde Silva, together with chefs Luis, Roberto and José. The teams were given a list of ingredients from which they had to prepare an ambitious three-course meal beginning with a starter of tuna carpaccio with wakame salad, soya sprout and lime vinaigrette, followed by roasted Guinea fowl with poached pear, potato gratin and vegetables and ending with tarte tatin with basil mascarpone mousse and vanilla ice cream.
The standard of cooking and presentation from each of the teams was so good that, after much deliberation, for the first time in the competition the judges awarded the teams joint First Prize.
A presentation dinner was held at the Conrad Hotel on Tuesday attended by Rotarians and guests, students, their proud parents, teachers and the General Manager of the Conrad, Katharina Schlaipfer.
Alan Winn of the Silves Club praised all the students who took part. “The standard gets higher every year,” said Alan, “making the judges’ task ever more difficult.”
Both he and Peter Hinze thanked the students, teachers, judges and, in particular the general manager and staff of the Conrad Hotel for their generosity and all the help given to this project.
In addition to the Winner’s Cup which will be held for six months by each of the schools, the students were presented with certificates and personalised aprons. The team from the school in Algoz were unable to attend but they were represented by teaching staff from the school.
For the first time in the competition it was decided to award a cash prize to the students who produced the best meal throughout the competition and this was won by the students from the Quarteira School.
Photo: Peter Hinze (far left) and Alan Winn (far right) pictured with Margarida Rodrigues (holding cup) and the winning students from the Quarteira school and Abílio Catarina (holding cup) from the Agrupamento de Escolas de Silves Sul