Master of Tapas

18th November 2019

When it comes to tapas, Ignite Colleges General Manager chef Jasbir Kaur knows her stuff.

So much so, in fact, that earlier this month she was flown to Valladolid in Spain, the only international judge on a panel of eight top chefs, tasked with selecting Spain’s national tapas champion.

Together with her fellow judges - all renowned Michelin starred chefs – Jasbir rated contestants across a range of categories including flavour, presentation and commercial viability. Competition was stiff and showcased a calibre of culinary prowess not previously seen.

“The level of creativity and amazing combination of flavours we saw in these competition dishes were extraordinary and among the best I’ve ever experienced,” says Jasbir.

And she has certainly experienced plenty. Not only was Jasbir a competitor in the 2017 World Tapas Championships, she is also the driving force behind the Australasian Tapas Championships, an annual competition which launched in 2018, and sees its winner representing Australasia at the World Champs. Her efforts were recently acknowledged by the Ambassador of Spain in New Zealand HE Fernando Curcio Ruigómez, who presented her with a special award in appreciation of her ongoing support to the gastronomy of Spain.

“Tapas has been elevated to more than just a dish – it is now an entire cuisine,” says Jasbir.

“The new styles of presentation and innovative cooking methods are out of this world, and unlike a regular dish which has several different elements on one plate, a tapas chef has to create culinary magic in just one or two bites. It’s a huge challenge.”

And it was a challenge that all the chefs rose to come competition day, but of course there could be only one winner – Francisco Javier Ruiz Fonta from celebrated restaurant La Jamada de Arrabal took out the national title with his mouth-watering brioche stuffed with apple compote, pickled chicken and almonds.

The win secured Francisco’s spot in the World Tapas competition, which took place shortly afterwards, but French chef Pascal Etchevarria was too good to beat, eventually being crowned the 2019 World Tapas Champion.

Now back on home turf, Jasbir is excited to pass on all that she has seen and tasted.

“I’ve brought back lots of innovative ideas to share with our budding chefs at Ignite Colleges,” she says.

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