Palmera, a small town on the N322 near to Oliva played host to the first competition using citrus fruits as the protagonist in a high level gastronomy event held there on 28 November.
Home to the Todoli Citrus Foundation, a garden and more dedicated to production and promotion of the citrus fruits in many exotic varieties the competition´s aim was to promote both the foundation and the use of its products in the highest level of cookery.
A bright sunny morning, the relentless rains which flooded local neighbouring Tavernes having finally receded, the chefs were balloted for their ‘turn´at 10.00 sharp and `cooking´ commenced immediately
We say cooking for a reason! This is the first such competition to use citrus fruit to such a level and also be freestyle in its nature. Many of the competitions have a prescriptive list of ingredients but there was no such brake here. Competitors could do what they wanted ……and did!
16 restaurants from Gandia, Oliva, Gata de Gorgos, Miramar, Denia, Cullera, Villalonga, Huesca, Tavernes de la Valldigna and El Palmar participated.
The jury was high-powered as well, counting on Vicent Todoli as President, Maria José San Roman ( Monastrell, Alicante) Javier Andres,( Colonial Group, Valencia) Manel Alonso ( Casa Manolo) and Toni Padian ( Ricard Camarena, Valencia).
But such is the nature of such competitions that much of the cookery is done as preparation at home before arriving at the venue. Thus many of the garnishes , emulsions , jellies and other elements which accompanied the main ingredients arrived pre-prepared in their Tupperware boxes and bottles which rather reduced the spectacle to an ‘assembly job’ with little real cookery going on compared with the traditional concursos .
That is not to undervalue the final results, Maria José and Javier both described this competition as being at the ‘highest level of gastronomy’ and being unique in its nature although some criticism was reserved for those restaurants who had not had taken the opportunity to visit the foundation.
Throughout the competition Moli de Pico and in particular Pepe Cotaina, produced a steady supply of Cocas de Oliva from their ovens.
The Prizes were awarded as follows:-,
First Prize , Main Course: Bruno Ruiz , Aticcook, Denia.
First Prize, Postres: Chez Mamie (Gandia) and Peix i Brases, (Denia) .
Second and third prizes were not awarded in either class which must be a bit disappointing for the other competitors who had prepared and attended the competition in their own time.