Last week, on Thursday evening, five local chefs competed in a Chef's Challenge hosted by the McKinney Women's Alliance. The event was fun filled with not only an intense cooking competition, but also delicious foods and live entertainment. The evening ended with an awards presentation and Robert taking home the title of . . . Chef Champion!!
For the cooking competition, the chefs were given one hour to create a main dish using six secret ingredients that were given to them as the clock started. Town Square Buzz said the "dishes were scored on creativity, use of the secret ingredients, and overall taste."
Before the competition began, as the guests arrived and mingled, we were able to sample "signature dishes" by the participating Chef's. Robert's "dish" was presented to us in a creative way, hidden inside an unexpected kraft paper box. Similar to the daily lunch he serves at Patina Green , the meal was a trio of flavors from the store's market and was served to go.
Inside the box was a mini smoked cheddar biscuit with pastured ham and jalapeno jelly. Puff pastry stuffed with spaghetti squash and roasted tomato salsa and a nacho with goat cheese, fresh asparagus, and pickled onions.
If the competition wasn't already enough of a challenge, the Chefs also had to set up a temporary "kitchen" inside one of the rooms at McKinney Performing Arts Center, where the event was held. They had to bring with them anything they might need to create their dish, including equipment, all tools, and a food pantry.
Robert gets ready . . .
The competition begins! The 60 minute timer has been set, the basket of six secret ingredients has been dropped off. It starts to get intense . . .
The six ingredients the Chefs were given - lamb chops, pistachios, quinoa, rhubarb, frozen peas, and rosemary.
We all gathered around to watch Robert as he began cooking the food.
Minutes until the sound of the timer, Robert began plating his food. I was a nervous wreak . . . he was calm as can be.
Time is Up! Here it is, the winning dish!
In the Chef's words:
Rosemary Seared Spring Lamb Loin, Texas 1015 Onion and Pistachio Quinoa, Rhubarb and Pastured Bacon Saute, Green Pea Cream
The Chefs each plated three dishes for the judges to critique. Robert was able to meet each judge and give a brief explanation of his work.
Here are the final dishes of the other participating chefs . . .
Chef Mikel Trevino de Luis, Cafe Malaga:
Chef Craig Brundege, Square Burger:
Chef Kent Lemmons, Bailey's Prime Plus:
Chef Lee Fields, Rick's Chophouse:
At the award presentation, each Chef was questioned by the judges as they critiqued each dish for all of the audience to hear. During Robert's critique he hasseled the event host for giving him frozen peas, something he "hasn't cooked with in ten years". He made us all laugh as he joked about adding bacon to the rhubarb, "which always makes things taste better". And he proudly announced "More veg, less meat" as the judges critiqued his plate leaving them wanting more of his delicious lamb.
They eventually named Robert the winner and while he accepted the Chef Champion plaque, he said that he "enjoyed getting to know the other Chef's in the competition and felt the event was about building community".
(Chef Craig and Chef Robert discussing their dishes after the timer was up and their food had been plated)
Afterwards, we celebrated his win at The Pub in downtown. Robert's grin was from ear to ear, and I thought we were never getting to sleep that night through all of his excitement!!