June 25, 2011 “Fun Decanted” Wine Event, LA Fairplex, Pomona
It was a brand-new day for the Sunday Night Chef Fights at the L.A. Fairplex in Pomona. Not only because we launched our brand-new series of Chef Fights at the Fairplex with a special Chef Fight at the “Fun Decanted” wine tasting event, but because it was a very special Saturday Night Chef Fight that icked off the action on Saturday, June 25th.
Our first two Challenger Chefs at the Fairplex were Chef Julio Nascimento, executive chef and owner of European Personal Chef in Corona, and Chef David Teig, executive complex chef at McKinley’s Grille at the Sheraton Fairplex in Pomona. Both chefs truly brought their A-games and full arsenal for their first Chef Fight experiences.
Chef David won the toss and elected to cook first, and despite not even witnessing a prior Chef Fight launched into an audacious six-course menu for his 30 minutes utilizing the base ingredients of fish, cabbage, and tortillas, and the mystery ingredient of Port wine (we were at a wine tasting after all!). He began with an albacore sashimi with green tomato wasabi and a lotus crisp, then presented a Santa Barbara spot prawn ceviche marinated in yuzu and served with a carrot brunoise from his farm there at the Fairplex. Next came hoja santo-wrapped black cod served with a roasted beet oil, and this was followed by a slab of berkshire pork belly served with caraway sweet cabbage slaw and a black garlic port glaze. David’s fifth course was an oxtail fig stew, and he capped off his Chef Fight, finishing with time to spare, with a dessert of a deep-fried banana tortilla roll served with banana ice cream, blood orange olive oil, and mardon salt.
Undaunted by the sheer number of courses or David’s “home kitchen advantage,” Chef Julio stepped into the kitchen to present his four-course menu, featuring a selection of dishes from around the world. His first was inspired by his travels to Mexico, a fish tortilla soup of red snapper, dorade, and sea bream, served with Serrano chiles, cilantro, and a thai shrimp garnish. Next came an Asian salmon slider blackened with black sesame seeds and topped with a tropical slaw of pineapple and mangoes and served on a Portuguese roll. Third came a deconstructed Spanish paella, which included saffron rice, clams, mussels, red snapper, a putanesca sauce, and crispy pancetta. Finally, Chef Julio presented his dessert, a ginger creme brulee of crystalized ginger, cinnamon, and port topped with a dried fruit compote.
After the audience had had time to digest all of the chefs’ amazing dishes, they returned their verdict. Chef David took the Creativity category while Chef Julio took Taste, and both chefs tied in Appearance, giving us our first-ever draw in Sunday Night Chef Fight history.
As both men now have a claim to call themselves the Defending Champion Chef of the Fairplex, Chef Julio will return to compete in our Culinary Quatro Sunday Night Chef Fight event in September during the L.A. County Fair, while Chef David, because of prior committments, will challenge the winner of the Culinary Quatro to a one-on-one battle during the first Fairplex Chef Fight of 2012 in January. We’ll have more details on these events as it breaks at www.sundaynightcheffights.com