Chefs Battled It Out at the Finale On June 16th At The AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center

Uchi partnered with Keeper Collection, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and The Wine & Food Foundation to present the final round of Citywide86’d on Monday, June 16th.  Over 250 guests attended the sold out event and watched finalists Lauren Ortiz of Uchi, Bradley Nicholson of Barley Swine, Uchiko’s Ben Schwartz and Murphy Park of Searsucker battle it out in three enthralling elimination rounds leaving one final winner, Schwartz.  Dishes created with secret ingredients and strict time limits were judged by Chefs Mat Clouser (Swift’s Attic), Jason Dady (Jason Dady Restaurants) and David Bull (Congress Austin and Second Bar + Kitchen). Uchi Culinary Director Phillip Speer acted as Emcee.

Fans of Food Network’s Chopped will recognize the idea behind Uchi’s 86’d, a competition where contestants compete in elimination rounds creating dishes using secret ingredients that were selected before the competition (seemingly non compatible or wildcard items like Corn Pops cereal, purple drink, cheese curds and gin were in the initial round mix).  The contest is divided into three stages: “Appetizer”, “Entrée”, and “Dessert”.  In this case, any restaurant staff that did not include sous chef level or above, including hostesses and servers, were invited to contend for a chance to win.

Chefs blew the judges away with sophisticated dishes created like cold-poached Maine Lobster dressed in miso and garlic butter, accompanied by peaches four ways: grilled, cured, fresh and pickled and a serrano pepper topping, in addition to a dessert of orange oil crumble served with tea ice cream, seared cucumber and plum, raw cucumber, cucumber jam and a peach-leaf chiffonade.

The first round required ingredients were pork skirt steak compliments of Salt & Time, nopal (prickly pear cactus) compliments of Haus Bar Farm, Naranjos Coffee Beans compliments of Tweed Coffee, and dark chocolate balsamic compliments of Con Olio Oils & Vinegars.

The entrée dish had to contain whole live Maine Lobster compliments of Lobster from Maine, Joven Espadin Mezcal compliments of Wahaka Mezcal, smoked Serrano chiles, and fresh peaches.

The final dessert round secret ingredients were peach leaves compliments of Haus Bar Farm, blood orange olive oil compliments of Con Olio Oils & Vinegars, 1995 Tuhsu pu-erh Yunnan Tea Leaves compliments of The Steeping Room, and cucumber compliments of F~Stop Farm.

“We are thrilled to see how the competition has grown in the past year. With new restaurant openings and new blood in the mix, we have had a blast hosting this series,” says Uchi Director of Culinary Operations Philip Speer.  “Eventually, I’d love to see this competition go nationwide.”

Thanks to Mission Restaurant Supply, each of the four finalists received a $100 gift card to shop at the Austin location of Mission Restaurant Supply.   Thanks to the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, each of the four finalists received a $200 gift certificate to Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria, along with a “Nose to Tail” meat education from the Butchers at Salt & Time.  Another great prize for each was a $300 gift certificate towards a Chef Knife.

The Winner received the Mission Restaurant Supply Engraved Stock Pot, a one week stage in two top Chicago Restaurants: Grace Restaurant with highly acclaimed Chef Curtis Duffy, who was named National Chef of the Year by Eater & The Chicago Tribune’s Chef of the Year, and L20 with Chef Matthew Kirkley, nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year.  The winner also received a $2250 stipend for travel expenses from the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

Although only the judges got to taste the competition dishes, fans enjoyed bites from some of Austin’s favorite restaurants; Barley Swine, Café Josie, Swift’s Attic, Trace, Uchi, Uchiko, the upcoming Fixe, Searsucker, The Steeping Room, Noble Sandwich Co., the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, and the upcoming St. Philip. Beer was provided by Independence Brewery,  gin cocktails by Revolution Gin, and six hand selected wines were also featured.

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About The Author

Hayden Walker
Executive Editor | Co-Publisher
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Hayden Walker is the Editor in Chief and Director of Operations for Austin Food Magazine

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