Sunday, October 10, 2010

September 30, 2010: Annual lab culinary competition

Spring brings the birthday of my colleague Jane, and our tradition of a culinary competition in her honour.  I was almost relieved to see fewer entries than in 2009!  (That was a tough cookbook to compile.)  But of course the standard of these dishes matched anything we've previously seen.  Last year's Lifetime Achievement Award Winner joined the judging panel and two other talented cooks dominated the honours list, claiming three prizes each.

My usual disclaimer - this is the one occasion each year that I include non-vegetarian photos on this blog.  Everyone puts in a lot of effort, a range of dietary requirements are catered to, and I think every dish deserves a mention.  Here's what we shared...

Mojitos!  These won the Bryan Brown/Tom Cruise bar-tending award for the two makers and shakers. 

Vege sandwiches


Tofu-tempeh skewers with satay sauce.
Winner for the best disguising of tofu.

Chorizo skewers

Cheese and vegemite damper

Pulled pork tacos.
This was awarded the Best Overall Savoury Dish.

Rice!  Winner of the Crispy Prize.

My eggplant and mushroom korma pilaf
(adapted from this recipe)

Macropus sausage rolls

Kohlrabi salad, crowned Classiest Dish of the day.

Pollo con cuarenta dientes de ajo (forty clove garlic chicken).
Prize winner for the Best Chilean Dish Not Made By A Chilean.

Savoury sweet potato squares.

Gin & Tonic Nibblies, Winner of the Judges' Award.

Mango lassi

Pink Gin & Tonic Lollipops for Grown-ups.
Prize winner as the Best Way To Cause Alcoholism in Kids.

Homemade marshmallows

Geelong Cake (because they were still the reigning premiers).
Award winner for the Best Losing Cake.

Traditional pumpkin pie

Passionfruit semifreddo.
Co-winner of the "One Good Icecream Deserves Another" prize.

My raspberry coconut icecream (photographed later).
Second co-winner of the "One Good Icecream Deserves Another" prize.

Baklava, prize winner as the Best Lebanese Dish Not Made By A Lebanese Person.

Peanut butter and honeycomb chocolate cups.
Awarded the America's Choice prize.

Explosión de naranja frío - con frutas y chocolate 
(cold orange soufflé with berries and chocolate).
Prize winner for Best Presentation.

The Chocolate Trojan - tea-soaked prunes in bitter chocolate cream.
Winner of the Jane's Choice Award.

And finally, the Grand Prize Winner!
A wattleseed meringue torte.


You can also see my reports on lab competitions in 2006, 2008 and 2009.


  1. I know the Grand Prize winner but I live overseas and I am always waiting to see her photos of the competition each year. So thanks for posting the run down here. BTW - I love reading your blog. Gives me lots of places to visit on my annual trip home to Oz.

  2. 40 clove garlic chicken! Does it really have 40 cloves? I wanna make something with 40 cloves of garlic. Also, I want a gin and tonic lollipop.

  3. Wow, all I can say is... wow. Do you do this for other colleagues too, or just Jane? That is an awesome effort!

  4. surely you couldn't survive in your workplace if you weren't a foodie - it all looks so inspired!

    I want a taste of the cheese and vegemite damper and the sweet potato squares but I love looking at the lollypops. Admire your bravery in bringing ice cream - I am sure it tasted great but hope the travel wasn't too much of a challenge

  5. Hi Anita! Lovely to have you visit. Maybe you should try scheduling your next trip back to Australia for late September 2011. :-D

    Lisa, it would have come close! They were soft and roasty and there was bread on hand for mushing the garlic on. I'm sure there's a veg version of that, that we can master next winter.

    Kate, it's a special annual event for a particularly special colleague. But the rest of us have birthday cakes. :-)

    Johanna, we welcome appreciative eaters as much as accomplished cooks. :-) Travelling with icecream wasn't too bad - tea towels and icepacks got me to the office and I was able to use a freezer once there.

  6. Love the annual lab competition. This year's looks good, but I think last year's was more inventive and fun.

    What's on those gin and tonic nibbles? Are they gin jelly pearls?

  7. Yes, Thanh! Gin and tonic with agar, piped into oil to set instantly as pearls. Amazing stuff.