SES and RFS members from the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla donned aprons and game faces recently for a hotly anticipated mystery box cooking challenge.
Bermagui chef Kelly Eastwood, who is no stranger to competition in the kitchen, directed contestants to the ‘green room’ as the mystery ingredients were readied. Go-time was signalled with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blasting through the speakers as the two teams entered the kitchen.
Three courses. Three hours. Three ‘Mystery Boxes’ starring quail and pomegranate, pork loin and bitter melon, and a fully constructed dessert. Anticipation built as contestants examined the ingredients from Mystery Box #1 and talked strategy, with a dash of help from Google before phones were surrendered.
Throughout the night, chef Kelly threw mini challenges into the mix.
During the entrée round, she pulled back a cloth to reveal two pairs of scissors – teams were to incorporate something from the Eastwood’s edible garden into their quail dish.
Main course saw two members on each team wearing conjoined aprons for five minutes – using one hand each. And for dessert, Kelly unveiled a pressure test – crepes filled with jam, cream and chocolate ganache that each team would have to recreate.
It was neck and neck until the final moments. RFS had claimed the entrée round with their delicious vegetable and spiced couscous stuffing for the quail, while SES emerged victors of the main course, producing a flavour-packed pork laksa and using the curve-ball ingredient of chicken hearts to their advantage.
In the final tasting, presentation together with texture of the crepe won team RFS the title.
When the competition was over, the team at Eastwood’s cooked a delicious meal for all to sit down and enjoy. Kelly and her team went above and beyond to create a fun-filled night.
The Mystery Box challenge saw friends and friendly rivals connecting in a social setting outside of work; helping others as they strategised as a team; being mindful as they ignited their creativity in the kitchen; and learning new things – from each other, and their masterful host Kelly.
With the pressure on, there was even some heart-pumping activity thrown in. A sound recipe for increasing wellbeing, “I’m still on a mental wellbeing high from Saturday night…and knowing I can cook quail,” one said.
Kelly’s main advice? Season more, and taste as you go – not a bad approach to life, we think.
We can’t wait to cook up the next challenge.
A huge thank you to Mark Anderson from Bega Valley Trophies for kindly donating not one but two trophies for the winning brigades!
To get involved in upcoming Fortem events check our Wellbeing Activities Calendar, you’ll also find mental health resources for first responders and their families in the Fortem Resource Library and via Peak Fortem. Fortem Australia also offers psychology support for eligible first responders and family members. Call 1300 33 95 94 to find out more.