LEVEN’S Jacalyn Moffat is the area’s amateur MasterChef champion for 2013!
With some imaginative thinking, the Lundin Links Hotel served up its own version of the hugely popular television cookery series, in which non-professional chefs were tasked with preparing a meal for a panel of judges.
Medical worker Jacalyn cooked up a three-course dinner earlier this month for adjudicators who included bosses at the Lundin Links Hotel and representatives from the East Fife Mail.
And on Friday – her 35th birthday – Jacalyn was presented with her prize, a free night’s stay for two at the Wheatsheaf Hotel and Restaurant in the Borders.
She told the Mail she was very surprised to win, as she felt a couple of things on the night hadn’t gone according to plan.
But she was nevertheless delighted to collect the prize, with the experience being a mixture of exhilaration and nerve-shredding stress.
For the competition, self-taught Jacalyn also tried a dish she had never cooked before, admitting she liked to ‘scare’ herself with a bit of a challenge.
Her ingredients were both seasonal and local, and her winning concoction started with east coast scallop resting on caramelised apple and Simpson of Leven black pudding, with a mango puree accompanied by a pea and Arbroath smokie mousse and beetroot puree.
The main course was a rack of ‘seriously good’ venison sitting atop Ardross potato and white truffle mash, surrounded by a bramble and chambord jus and cauliflower puree, accompanied by a wee Ardross carrot, baby leek and honey parcel, and purple sprouting broccoli, finished with a spiced beetroot jelly.
Her dessert comprised deconstructed rhubarb and apple crumble, with bitter chocolate, and warm, salted caramel cream.
The judges gave her individual scores out of 10, while she was also marked out of 20 by the head chef on preparation, calmness under pressure, timing, familiarity with the ingredients and co-operation with the staff.
The judges complemented Jacalyn on doing very well with an untested menu and coping with the pressure –even though it was for fun, there was a fair amount at stake, cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen for people she did not know.
Hotel owner and judge Martin White said: “Her strategy to use local ingredients in a very creative and colourful way stole the judges’ hearts and she produced an excellent three-course meal.
“If Jacalyn ever wants to give up her day job, she should keep in touch – I think she could make a great chef.”
The Lundin Links Hotel hopes to repeat the fun contest next year and invite Jacalyn back as a guest judge.
There have been further changes at Alexander’s restaurant in the hotel, with new chefs and a new restaurant manager, and new menus begin on April 5.
Previous chef Stephen Pearson has moved on – but not too far – after 13 years to a new post at the Old Manor Hotel, and took with him the best wishes of his former employers.