It was a Punk vs. Patina showdown at the inaugural Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight on Sunday, September 19th at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach, as “Rock n’ Roll Chef” Phil Knoke took on former Patina Group executive chef Don Schoenburg in an entertaining and razor-
close Chef Fight that gave us our first-
ever split decision.
Chef Knoke won the toss but proffered the kitchen stage to Chef Schoenburg, who seemed a bit overwhelmed at first by the lights and the sold-
out crowd but quickly turned up the heat as he put together three dishes using the Base and Mystery ingredients. His first course was a salad of Burrata mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn, and fried basil dressed with basil vinaigrette. Next came his chipotle-
glazed beef short ribs braised for 8 hours in an oxtail stock. The ribs sat on Kerrygold Irish cheddar polenta and were topped with a grilled corn salsa and a chipotle glaze made from the braising liquid and red wine, among other ingredients. Lastly, Chef Schoenburg brought out his secret weapon: goat cheese caramel cheesecake lollipops with a dark chocolate shell and homemade toffee bits. He did admit that his wife Christi, his business partner and pastissier, helped him with the dish, but the audience didn’t seem to mind.
After some time to enjoy and rate Chef Schoenburg’s dishes, it was Chef Knoke’s turn to step into the CulArena. He immediately charmed the audience by explaining his background and intriguing life story and by bringing out several large bottles of booze he would incorporate into his three-
course menu, earning himself a round of applause. His first dish was Seared Steak Chardonnay, sliced seared Filet Mignon that had been marinating overnight in Chardonnay served atop a southwestern corn, sweet pepper, and grape relish and drizzled with aged Balsamic vinegar. Next up was Chef Knoke’s signature Dirty Martini Steak, more Filet Mignon married with Bombay Sapphire gin, green olives, and blue cheese, then served in a martini glass with a tangerine twist. For his last dish, Chef Phil brought the flames with his Caribbean Powder Keg Filet, a red-
hot collaboration of smoked Filet Mignon, watermelon sauteed in Malibu rum, and coconut with a drizzle of lime and Cayenne caramel. Chef Knoke also noted that his beef was grass-
range beef provided by Paso Prime beef.
In the end, the audience was torn between the two chefs and gave a split decision victory to Chef Schoenburg, rating Chef Knoke higher in Creativity, but favoring Chef Schoenburg by a narrow edge in Appearance and by a wider margin in Taste.
Chef Don Schoenburg is our new Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight Defending Champion and will defend his title on December 5th against a Challenger Chef to be named very soon.