RECAP: Dish It Out 2015 Chefs Competition
Dish It Out AZ 2015 took place on October 25th, with all proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. This culinary event took place on a beautiful Arizona fall evening as High Street was lined with more than 40 restaurants, wine and spirit vendors. Live music and chef demonstrations also entertained the crowd.
I was honored to co-judge the Dish It Out Championship with Chef Robert McGrath of Check, Please! Arizona and Executive Chef Michael Snoke of Chase Field. The main event included five well-known Valley chefs and Joanie Simon, winner of the "Winner, Winner, Dish It Out Dinner Cook-Off", battling it out on stage for bragging rights and the title of Dish It Out Champion. Radio personalities Beth McDonald and Marty Manning of 99.9 KEZ were the dynamic emcees.
The competitors cooked in three rounds of two and were given 20 minutes to finish their dish in an Iron Chef-style competition. We chose a winner for each round, and then the top two chefs went on to compete against each other. Each chef was prepared to make two dishes in the event they made it to the final round. These talented chefs certainly did not make our job easy! I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
Joanie's entry was a New York Strip steak marinated in Queen Creek Olive Mill Chile Pepper Olive Oil, sliced and served over dried New Mexico chile pepper and tomato puree, with quick pickled peppers, tomatillo salsa, and cilantro scallion crema.
Chef Zamora made two dishes, starting with an amuse of cured and smoked Copper River Salmon with lebna, caper aioli, watermelon radish and sunflower sprout (Instagram here). His main dish was a lamb trio with braised shoulder, belly and bacon, beet-stained pearl couscous, Butterkin squash, sous-vide za'taar ciopollini onion, pickled enoki mushroom, red pepper marmalade, fennel, harissa and pea tendrils:
Chef Mckinley's dish was squab two ways (seared breast and confit leg in bacon fat topped with a fried quail egg), carrot and fennel purée, potato pavé, smoked carrots, squab demi-glace and black truffles.
Chef Kraus treated us to a cocktail to start, a Vegetable Martini with vodka, mint, and zucchini and garnished with a smoked date (Instagram here). He paired it with his "18 mile" vegetable crudités with a chile, tahini and fermented lime dressing and dates. The 18 miles was in reference to Steadfast Farm at The Farm at Agritopia where the dish's fresh vegetables were sourced - radish, zucchini, rainbow peppers, and purslane.
Chef Wiener served us foie-gras stuffed scallops on pumpkin puree with mushrooms, pepita chimichurri and red wine gelée.
Chef May spoiled us with a pour of Remy 1738 which he said would pair nicely with his dish, although I just may have finished my cognac before it arrived. Nice touch, Chef! For the judges, he made a decadent bánh mì with shaved duck breast, foie gras mousse and seared foie with pickled vegetables and maple mint-aioli on a sesame bun.
Winner: Gregory Wiener
After consulting with my fellow judges, the decision was made to have Chefs Zamora and Mckinley face off in the final round.
For his finale, Chef Zamora made a duck trio (seared duck breast, confit thighs and duck skin lardo) with saffron corn puree, turmeric duck fat confit fingerlings, curry-pickled cauliflower, tempura okra, fermented Midnight grapes, pickled pomegranate seeds and bacon jam.
Chef Mckinley was just as ambitious, serving Merguez sausage-stuffed beet tortelloni with blistered tomato, brown butter golden raisins, Point Reyes blue cheese, pickled baby golden beets, Calabrian chiles, burro fuso, and truffle caviar.
And a thank-you to Chef Wiener who surprised us with a bonus dish, and a perfect finale - a sweet treat of chocolate sponge cake with sweet corn pudding and lavender.
Judging between Zamora and Mckinley, both gifted chefs, made this round extremely difficult, but in the end Chef Mckinley took the Belt and the title of 2o15 Dish It Out Champion. Congratulations Chris!
And huge congratulations to all the talented chefs who made our judging so delicious and fun.
It looks like everyone who attended this event had a great time See you next year!