This year’s Celebrity Chef Throwdown at the West Virginia Culinary Classic presented two interesting twists.
One, last year’s same chefs competed in a heated (not really) rematch between returning winner Chef Gene Evans for Northern Community College and challenger Chef Tom Grant from Carver Career and Technical Center.
And, two, the competition threw in a reality show-like whammy this year!
Just five minutes before both teams started cooking, each chef got to select an ingredient (in addition to the mystery ingredient) that the opposing chef HAD to incorporate into one of their dishes.
Chef Gene took it easy on Chef Tom, choosing flatbread that was sautéed in olive oil to serve in an Italian-Mediterranean-style dish of pesto gnocchi with red peppers, toasted flatbread and fried basil leaves. Tom did not return the nicety, giving Gene Corn Chex that had to be incorporated into a dish.
Undeterred, Gene presented a pork roulade stuffed with a goat cheese and Corn Chex stuffing that looks pretty darn tasty.
It wasn’t enough, though. In a heated (not really) battle, Chef Tom dethroned Chef Gene’s team by capping off his three-dish presentation with an Oreo crème brulee made on-the-spot without the benefit of an oven.
While all of this was going on, there were NO winners at a new “Man vs. Food” event in which four strapping guys were challenged to try to finish a two-pound pulled pork sandwich (complemented with a pound of slaw and fries) in just an hour’s time.
I thought someone would do it, that is, until I saw these sandwiches, which were BEASTS. Not a single guy met the challenge, but God bless ‘em for trying. I’m sure they still haven’t recovered!