Camel meat cooked over a campfire: that was the challenge for two apprentice chefs from leading hotels in Alice Springs when they entered the Wild Bushfoods ‘iron chef’ competition last Sunday.
Rajeev Chhefri, from the Chifley Resort, and Jeff Campbell from the Crowne Plaza showed that they know how to step out of their comfort zones. In the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens they were given a box of identical ingredients, including camel meat, wattle-seed dukkah, bush tomatoes, quandongs, dates and native spices such as lemon myrtle, as well as some non-native vegetables, such as Congo potatoes and parsnip. They had brought their own pantry ingredients and utensils. Organisers built them a fire and away they went, with 45 minutes to create a dish.
Both of them produced two dishes: Rajeev, a camel roulade and a camel stir-fry; Jeff, a camel tapas and a dessert – date and wattle-seed tiramisu with lemon myrtle popcorn. The sweet-toothed judges gave Jeff the win.
Domestic cooks again showed their flair in the first heat of the Recipe Competition. In the dessert category first-time entrant Ronja Moss (of Mozzie Bites fame) took out the heat, with her Full Desert Moon flan (pictured), featuring quandongs, macadamia nuts and wattleseed.
Previous prize-winner Ange Vincent triumphed with her wildcard entry, Bush Orange and Burdekin Plum Membrillos (fruit pastes) to serve with cheese and biscuits.
In the savory category Hujjat Nadarajah used saltbush leaves, bush tomatoes and wattle-seed dukkah in a slow-cooked camel stew to win his heat.
Relative new-comer to Australia, Patrick Friell from Norway, wowed the judges with his Quandong and Yoghurt Jelly Terrine, accompanied by Apple and Native Mint Granita and Rosella Glaze. As a professional, he can’t go forward in the heats but judges rewarded his bushfoods passion with a free ticket to Andrew Fielke’s masterclass, a feature of the Wild Bushfoods event. Andrew is an internationally recognised chef who has specialised in creating dishes from Australian native foods.
The next heat of the recipe competition, an annual feature of the Alice Desert Festival, will be held at Cafe Soma in Todd Mall on September 4, from 1pm.
Camel and campfire: iron chef, bush style