From Junior Chef on the Rise to World Cook
The World Cook culinary series now streaming on Amazon Prime was conceptualised in a similar style to the FIFA Soccer World Cup. The series creates a version by taking 16 chefs from 16 different countries, and having them battle in seven different destinations for a chance at The World Cook Championship.
What’s Thursday Food’s interest? The series not only features Jamaican Chef Haleem Card but we are delighted to announce that he copped second place. Bravo, Chef! We reckon, like us, you’d enjoy Card’s recap.
The contestants in the first round met hosts European TV personalities Emma Willis and Fred Sirieix at a former army jet engine test bunker in a former US air force base outside of London, England. Here, they were tasked with making their signature dishes in two hours. First-round battles would see half the competitors sent home. Matches included: Jamaica vs France, Australia vs South Africa, Philippines vs India, England vs Portugal, Sweden vs Italy, Canada vs Belgium and Germany vs USA. The first-round winners were Jamaica, Australia, India, England, Sweden, Belgium and Germany.
In this round Card, the youngest chef in the competition, made his signature Crispy Pork Belly with Braised Red Cabbage, Candied Plantain and Sweet Potato Mash, which gave him the edge over Chef Vincent from France.
Each chef was then paired with another for the quarter-final round in yet another destination. This challenge saw chefs reduced from the full commercial kitchen in the first round to just a small grill, a table and a single induction stove-top burner to create a two-course menu with a given secret ingredient. Of note was that all ingredients had to be sourced in the destination of the challenge.
The first match saw Jamaica, represented by Card, go head to head with Chef Radhika of India in Mallorca, Spain. Jamaica came out victorious after making Saltfish Fritters with Tomato Salsa and Lobster Caviar for starters and a stunning Island Seafood Platter for the main, consisting of Fish Tea, Jerk Mussels, Escoveitch Seared Scorpion Fish, Grilled Garlic Lobster, Iberico and Fig Poached Prawns, Smoked Tomato and Red Stripe Steamed Langoustines.
The semi-finals took place along the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Chefs were teamed up to create a four-course menu of a mandatory starter, pasta, main, and dessert all from a predetermined list of Italian ingredients only found in season at the time of the challenge. Each chef was responsible for two courses.
In this challenge Card and his team of “Island Boys” served a Ceviche of Prawn and Sea Bream for starters, Vongale Clam and Sea Bream Ravioli in a pesto cream sauce and fried capers for the pasta, Sous Vide Quail with Onion Jam, Steamed Bak Choy, and Smoked Carrot PurÃ©e for the main and a Lemon Sponge Cake with Lemon Pastry Cream, Vanilla Chantilly for dessert. The judges deemed this the superior menu.
Card, now in the finals along with Chef Justin of Australia, was jetted to Tulum, Mexico and tasked to create a three-course fine-dining experience for a fully booked restaurant that included Michelin star Chef Marcus Waring. They had four hours to complete same. There was an added challenge: chefs would have to recreate the dish they did in the first round, with no additional time.
Card pulled out all stops for what was ultimately a five-course menu that included his signature pork belly dish, A Trio of Tacos: Stout Braised Oxtail, Curried Goat and Fried Snapper all served with a Cactus Salsa and Guacamole for his starter, his rendition of a Beef Patty with Blackbean Hummus and Grapefruit Granita for the second, Sous Vide Jerk Chicken with Pumpkin Beetroot and Rice and Peas Crisp and an Exotic Fruit Salad with Coconut Ice Cream for dessert.
Through a nail-biting, long four-hour battle, by a paper-thin margin unfortunately Card would have to settle for second place in the World Cook 2022.
Card, on his return to Jamaica, shared with Thursday Food, “And to think just a year prior I was selling box lunches to make rent during COVID-19. This experience has truly changed my life and career forever! The mission was clear: Do my part in putting Jamaica on the map for things other than athletics and reggae. I would like to think that it was mission accomplished with flying colours! I’ve tasted and seen things I could only dream about. I know for a fact I am truly blessed and highly favoured, and this is only the beginning for me.”