|The winning team and judges!|
The 4th annual SafePath Cooking Competition took place this past Thursday night in front of estimated 1,000 people as the local public safety departments took place in a battle royal for the coveted Lodge cast iron pan trophy. Having tasted victory in this Chopped style competition before, I was eager to lead my team of victory back to the promised land. With three local, prestigious chefs (one cooks for the Georgia Governor, another, the owner/chef of the most respected Indian restaurant in Atlanta, Chai Pani, and the owner/chef behind Canoe, Aria and the new St. Regis Hotel restaurant, Atlas) judging our dishes, I was anxious to prove that we firefighters are culinary sages in our own right. With one dish being a soup, salad or appetizer and then an entree with the requirements both chicken, steak, a starch and vegetable be on the dish, we decided collectively to pursue a South Western theme. A soup was decided as the appetizer, Chicken Tortilla soup, and the main dish held three offerings: Tequila Lime Skirt Steak over Pepper Jack Grits topped with Chiptole Cream sauce, Blue Corn Pancakes topped with Spiced Black Beans, Avocado Crema and Quick Pickled Mexican Radish and Corn Esquites (street style). With five firefighters and 45 minutes to complete the dishes, I always go above and beyond and create a dessert, this year to follow with the theme, I made Buñuelos, a Columbian style donut, spice with a Cinnamon Espresso Sugar and a Brown Sugar Crema sauce. Quite a menu!
But the hosts threw us a 4 secret ingredient curve ball: fresh garbonzo beans, lychees, pecan oil and a rutabaga. I worked the garbonzo beans into the soup (first blanching then deep frying them in a lite batter), added the lychees to the Brown Sugar Cream sauce (and placed into the carved out sheel of the lychee), baked the tortilla chips with the pecan oil and quick pickled the rutabaga with the Mexican radish. The judges seemed impressed with the way we worked the secret ingredients into the dishes as they exclaimed that the entire menu "exploded with flavor"! We were humbled and honored to reclaim our championship and look forward to defending it next year. Until then, stay low and stay safe, my friends!
|Explaining our dishes to the judges.|
|Many lights and cameras...|
|The crew is watching the menu be dissected.|
|Best Selfie Ever.|