BY DENISE SHAVANDY
There was a lot of heated competition this year at the Kids Who Care Celebrity Chef Cook-Off! This year’s line up included Anthony Felli of Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods, Christof Syre of Cafe on the Green, Blaine Staniford of Grace, and Mark Hitri of Saint Emillion to name a few! Many of us chefs like to come prepared, and are known to be just a little bit competitive (ha ha) so they had to change the rules this year. A few chefs have
been known to bring equipment like ice cream machines to help edge out the competition, so this year it was “old school”. By that I mean, we couldn’t use an electrical or battery operated equipment. Now I will tell you, it was a lot easier to pack, but I felt like I had a hand tied behind my back- what do you mean- no immersion blender!
So here’s the rules- #1 You get a “sous chef” assigned to you. Yes, I put “sous chef” in quotes because this is actually the notable Texan that is assigned to you and their sous chef-ing skills range widely. It’s like a box of chocolates! To give you an idea this year’s
goodies donated by Ben E Keith above. #3 You only have 45 minutes to prepare two identical plates incorporating all 3 of the mystery ingredients. (You can make other dishes for bonus points or just to show you can!) #4
NO outside food can be brought in (now that was tough- chefs have been known to bring black truffles, Iranian saffron, or even prepared sauces) and NO electrical or battery operated equipment. #5 Only your sous chef can leave the station- you must man the station for the entire 45 minutes. This makes it interesting because if you send your sous chef to the pantry for quinoa and they don’t know what quinoa looks like, hmmm.
So, I was paired up with Chris Klein from Ben E Keith, and
ding ding goes the bell. Chris collects our mystery basket and this year’s mystery ingredients were (drum roll please…) beef hanger steak, guajillo chiles, and salsify?! The clock is ticking, counting down from 45 minutes. I send Chris to the pantry table to collect a long list of goodies including baby beets with greens, quinoa, asparagus, basil, poblanos, sweet bells, tomato juice, mango. I was going for the shot gun effect, figuring if he
brought back enough stuff it would develop into something good. So we started cooking with no direction in mind. Here’s what we ended up with…
Salad of Roasted Baby Beets, Beet Greens, Asparagus, with paprika dressing, and goat cheese rolled in crushed pistachios
Curry Crusted Seared Hanger Steak, Caramelized Salsify, and Quinoa Pilaf with Guajillos, topped with Mango-Roasted Poblano Pico de Gallo
It was fun! We raised money for a great cause and brought home the award for Best Culinary Technique (one of only three awards given!)