Monday, December 8, 2014

Couples Cooking Challenge Championship

On November 14th the Couples Cooking Competition Championship was held at Aggressive Appliances, (617 Mercy Dr, Orlando, FL). The hands-on cooking competition was designed to give couples the opportunity to test their skills for the chance to win fabulous prizes and the title of Orlando’s Top Culinary Couple. Presented by Edible Orlando and the Orlando Date Night Guide, the contest gave couples the chance to compete in one of the 3 qualifying rounds, with one winner from each semi-final cook-off advancing to the finals. I sketched one of the qualifying rounds and then returned for the Championship. Contests were judged by local food personalities and writers, Joseph Hayes (Orlando Magazine), Katie Farmand (Edible Orlando), Pam Brandon (Edible Orlando), Adrienne Iannone (Whole Foods) and Cinthia Sandoval (Wild Ocean Seafood).

There were some impressive prizes on the line including, A two-night gourmet getaway to JW Marriott, Grande Lakes including dinner for two at PRIMO, breakfast each morning in Citron, An American Brasserie, and two spa passes to the Ritz-Carlton Spa. The grand prize was a Sub Zero wine cooler. Other prizes included a Tassimo coffee system, a Meile canister vacuum, and a KitchenAid stand mixer.

A table with all the mystery ingredients was covered with a sheet. Each of the five couples was assigned their own kitchen which was prepped and ready to go. When the mystery ingredients were unveiled the contestants muscled in and gathered ingredients as if in a Black Friday frenzy. In the qualifying round they were polite and shared ingredients. Now with big prizes on the line it was each couple for themselves. Another unexpected twist came when they were told that the usual 45 minute preparation time would be reduced to 20 minutes. Everyone scrambled back to their kitchens and the competition heated up.

The couple I sketched was in kitchen 2. I spoke with them briefly after the dishes were finished. The primary ingredient everyone had to work with was shrimp. The couple made a modified grits dish to accompany the shrimp. One of the judges was tasting their dish as I was speaking to the couple. They watched her every taste, looking for signs of expression on her face. There were appetizers on hand for the crowd who came to watch the competition. I had to consider the sketch was none when the computer battery died. As a result of the competition, $800 was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. In the end, it was Arti Kalidas and Chirag Kabrawala who, won the coveted title of Orlando's Top Culinary Couple.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: