For our first-
ever Sunday Night Chef Fight in the Coachella Valley, we selected two of the region’s top chefs – Matt Smith of the 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro and Andrew Copley of Copley’s on Palm Canyon– to compete for the inaugural title of “Champion Chef of the Coachella Valley.” And just as we expected, both chefs brought their A-
Game, fought tooth and nail, and served the Capacity audience of 60 food lovers several incredible dishes in their efforts to be the first to claim the title.
Chef Copley won the coin toss and elected to cook first, and he utilized the base ingredients of pork, leeks, and cheese and the mystery ingredient of rum to concoct three dishes for the packed house. He began with a soup and tartlet combo, pairing a roasted butternut squash soup with a barbecue pork and goat cheese tartlet made from smoked and braised pork loin trimmings and a housemade barbecue sauce. Then came his main course: a roasted pork loin stuffed with dried cranberries, sun-
dried tomatoes, and mangoes. Each slice of pork was topped with a veal stock and merlot reduction sauce and was served with a fresh corn “flan” of eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and golden raisins soaked in Malibu rum along with caramelized leeks with bacon, spicy sausage, and spaghetti squash. Finally, for dessert, Chef Andrew served up a goat cheese flan with a lavender creme Anglaise and paired with two different ice creams: egg nog flavored with rum, sherry, and brandy, and basil.
After a short intermission while the audience deliberated on Chef Andrew’s scores, it was Chef Matt’s turn, and he made a bold proclamation of his intentions by attempting six different dishes, something no first-
time Chef Fight competitor has ever attempted. He started with his “Wilbur Jack” cocktail, made from ginger beer, sparkling cider, and a homemade bacon-
infused apple rum Chef Matt concocted. Next was Matt’s “snow cone,” pieces of melon compressed in fruit juice served with crispy la quercia speck, parmesan snow, and walnuts. Third was Chef Matt’s take on a grilled cheese, with milk poached whole suckling pig, camembert, leek and truffle aioli, and pickled mustard seeds. Then, he presented his take on pork and beans, using white beans and bacon, a parmesan/tomato brodo, leeks, and Mexican gremolata. Fifth was Matt’s main dish, a braised pork belly with an apple, potato, and leek puree and grated smoked feta on top. And finally for dessert, he presented a “3 Cheese Cake” of ricotta, goat, and cream cheese topped with a homemade lamb bacon chocolate.
The audience rendered their verdicts and ultimately gave the Chef Fight to Chef Andrew Copley in a split decision. Chef Copley took the Appearance and Taste categories, while Chef Matt was victorious in Creativity.
Chef Copley is the brand-
new “Champion Chef of the Coachella Valley” and will return to efend his title against Chef Aaron Kiefer of East West Catering at the next Coachella Valley Sunday Night Chef Fight on Sunday, April 10th at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Rancho Mirage. Tickets will go on sale March 1st. For the Palm Springs/Desert Sun’s take on the inaugural Coachella Valley Sunday Night Chef Fight, click