What a great, great time!
Iron Chef 2014 went off without a hitch at The Southern Women’s Show over the weekend. Four chefs battling for an hour with one secret ingredient. The crowd turned out, each chef had his own cheering section, each guest had a phenomenal time. The contestants were Seth Musler, from Betty Bombers, Christopher Adgate, Executive Chef at Belford’s in City Market, Cameron Cheney, Executive Chef at B. Tillman and Kirk Blaine, Executive Chef at Driftaway Cafe. Each contestant brought along a Sous Chef to assist with the challenge, except for one. Christopher Adgate chose to ride solo. What an impressive display that was, watching one person prepare three servings of two separate dishes for our judges, using a secret ingredient. Speaking of which the candidates for the secret ingredient were:
Kale, Chorizo, Avocado, Peanut Butter and Raisins.
Shortly after 12:30pm we introduced our chefs, and our secret ingredient, peanut butter, and got rolling. The chefs drew numbers to determine the order in which they would start. Start times were staggered by ten minutes so as to insure our three judges would get fresh, hot plates to judge. Imagine having to put together two different dishes for three judges in one hour? Challenging to anyone, but our chefs made it look easy.
Betty Bombers prepared a West African Stew with an avocado crema for one dish and a “Skewerless Satay” Chicken as they called it. Marinaded in several spices that was then sauteed and served with a sliced avocado and an Asian slaw.
Belford’s Seafood and Steaks offered Pan Seared Vermillion Snapper, potato hash, and a similar Asian slaw with a peanut sauce (using peanut butter) for one dish. The other was Steamed Cams in wine wine butter broth and a crostini with peanut sauce glaze.
B. Tillman prepared a twist on Shrimp and Grits (but no grits). Shrimp in a cream sauce sauteed with baby carrots, haricot verts on a bed of collard greens. Their second dish was a Pan Seared Blacked Trout on dirty rice.
Finally, Driftaway Cafe offered what on it’s face appeared the most challenging of all. First dish was Chef Kirk’s twist on Chicken and Waffles. Chicken thigh meat wrapped in a waffle cone that he made on the spot. Then fried. That was served with collards and peanut butter reduction sauce. Second dish drew a wow from the crowd….Lobster Tail wrapped in beef tenderloin wrapped in chicken skin and fried. Served with a tiny dollop of potato puree and asparagus spears. Visually stunning.
As the contest wore on, our quality control supervisor Chef Jean Vendeville of Savannah Technical College was making sure the playing field was even, he approached me and said “Every dish is a winner”. He of course was making the rounds tasting, as well.
When the scores were tallied, we had a winner. Amazingly enough, just like last year, we had a one point differential between first and second place. Your winner? Cameron Cheney and B. Tillman! His blackened trout and dirty rice ultimately tipping the scales in his favor with all three judges, just enough to give him the one point win.
It may sound cliche, but everyone was a winner at this event. Chefs got some great expsoure, guests got to sample some leftovers, they had a chance to chat with chefs about their restaurants and style of cooking and Savannah’s growing food scene took one more step forward. A huge thanks to all that attended! We are looking forward to bigger and better next year!! For those that missed it, you can see the entire show on TV coming up late March! Eat It and Like It airs at 7:30am Sunday mornings on WSAV.
See you TV.