GAZA (Rahnuma): “It was my first step to achieve my dream to be a global chef,” Sarah Nowfal said to Xinhua while she was preparing her eastern dish in a competition for cooking talents.
Nowfal was one of nine participants competing in the final round of the “Smile Kitchen Talent” competition, which was organized for the first time in the Gaza Strip.
The nine contestants were divided into three groups, namely Western, Oriental and Pastry cooking groups, to prepare their dishes in 90 minutes.
In May, the “Smile Kitchen” center, an academic center aiming to teach talented chefs the arts of eastern and western cooking in the Gaza city, announced that they are going to organize a competition for cooking talents.
The competition came under the auspices of the Palestinian Chefs Club, which is a member of the International Chefs Association.
“It consisted of 70 participants of both genders, 20 of whom reached the pre-final stage, while only nine contestants qualified for the final stage,” chef Warif Qasem told Xinhua.
Qasem, one of the jury members of the competition, said that each competitor in the finals had a black box that contained the basic ingredients of the food such as meat, rice, legumes, flour, spices, oil and sugar, to prepare their special dishes in only 90 minutes.
“This is the first time that a cooking competition was organized in the Gaza Strip. Despite the challenges we faced, especially in the light of the shortage of electricity, and the Israeli blockade,” he said.
“Professional cooking, the way the food is prepared, the presentation and the handling of kitchen utensils are the criteria upon which the jury has decided to select contestants who have reached the finals,” Qasem said.
He pointed out that the winner will be officially admitted to the club of Palestinian chefs, and provided a job opportunity in the field where he or she can create new varieties of food.
Such competitions are rarely held in the Gaza Strip, which has been besieged by Israel since 2006.
Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip right after Hamas movement violently seized control of the enclave in 2007. Since then, the economy in the enclave has been deteriorating and has created a hard living situation for its people.
For his part, Ziad Al-Rabie, director of the competition, praised the event despite the difficulties that the participants faced.
“Despite the difficulties we faced during the competition, especially in light of the lack of support and sponsorship from private institutions, we succeeded in hosting this competition with limited resources,” he said.
After 90 minutes, the contestants finished preparing the dishes and presented them to the jury members for evaluation.
The audience also voted in the finals for their favorite contestants.
The competition ended with three winners, Sobhia Abu Hasira in the group of sweets and pastries, Suha Sharaf of Oriental cooking, and Saja Abu Sahaban of Western cooking.