2016 Chefs Taste Challenge Winners Announced

Chef Eric Cook of The American Sector Restaurant was named Champion at the 2nd annual Farm to Table Chefs Taste Challenge (CTC), which took place August 19, 2016 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. His winning creation was “Sugarshine Glazed Gulf Shrimp and Texas Green Squash Cassoulet” which featured Whole White Gulf Shrimp, Praline Rum, and Green Squash.

Chef Lee Anne Wong of KH Restaurants, Honolulu, HI took home runner-up honors for her dish, Thai Style Fried Quail, Heart of Palm, Mayhaw Chili Glaze.

Chef Henry Chandler of Henry’s Louisiana Grill, Acworth, GA won the “Fan Favorite,” as decided on by the attendees, for his dish, Farm Boy’s Feast, which featured Braised Beef Inside Round with Mushroom and Chickpea Saffron Risotto.

The chefs hail from various geographical regions across the United States, and were challenged to create the best dish that utilizes farm-fresh items from a pantry of both seasonal local ingredients and products donated by State Agricultural Departments. Each attendee received a tasting portion of the following dishes and cast their votes for the “Fan Favorite:”

Nicholas Calias, The Colonnade Hotel & Brasserie Jo, Boston, MAFennel Scented Amberjack Trinity Dust, Lentil Gumbo, Pickled Squash, Lentil Croquette, Squash Remoulade
Donated Products: Lentils – Montana Department of Agriculture; Yellow Squash – Texas Department of Agriculture

Henry Chandler, Henry’s Louisiana Grill, Acworth, GAFarm Boy’s Feast – Braised Beef Inside Round with Mushroom and Chickpea Saffron Risotto
Donated Products: Inside Round Beef – Natco; Mushrooms – Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; Chickpeas – Montana Department of Agriculture

Eric Cook, The American Sector, New Orleans, LASugarshine Glazed Gulf Shrimp and Texas Green Squash Cassoulet
Donated Products: Praline Rum – DPD Spirits; Green Squash – Texas Department of Agriculture

Mark Henry, Brother Luck Street Eats, Colorado Springs, COWild Boar Nduja Slider, w/ Hatch Green Chili Pimento Cheese & Quick Pickled Nectarine Slaw
Donated Products: Wild Boar – Two Run Farms; Hatch Green Chili Peppers – New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Clint Jolly, Great Thyme Catering, Reno, NV Gator Poutine – Alligator Boudin Blanc with Crispy Kennebec Potatoes, Sweet Corn Gravy and Soft Burrata
Donated Products: Sweet Corn – New Jersey Department of Agriculture; Potatoes – West Virginia Department of Agriculture

Alexa Lemley, 240sweet Artisan Foodworks, Columbus, INA Fish, a Cow, and an Ear of Corn Walk into a Bar…
Donated Products: Whiskey – DPD Spirits; Cottage Cheese – Indiana Department of Agriculture

Leonardo Maurelli, III, Ariccia Trattoria at The Hotel at University of Auburn, Auburn, ALBraised Cubed Beef, Local Polenta with Romano Cheese and Charrred Peach Agrodolce
Donated Products: Cubed Beef – Gonsoulin Farms; Peaches; South Carolina Department of Agriculture; Romano Cheese – South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Chef Plum, Plumluvfoods, Newtown, CTCeviche of Black Drum with Pickled Shallot, Toasted Pecan Mayo, Smoked Mango Sea Bean Salad
Donated Products: Sea Asparagus – Hawaii Department of Agriculture; Pecans – New Mexico Department of Agriculture

David Ruiz, Pueblo Harvest Café, Albuquerque, NMDeconstructed Chicken Blue Corn Bao, Ginger Syrup and Blood Orange Chimichurri
Donated Products: Chicken Thighs – Hose of Raeford; Blue Corn – New Mexico Department of Agriculture; Ginger Syrup, Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Lee Anne Wong, KH Restaurants, Honolulu, HIThai Style Fried Quail, Heart of Palm, Mayhaw Chili Glaze
Donated Products: Quail – South Carolina Department of Agriculture; Hearts of Palm – Hawaii Department of Agriculture

The dishes were judged by a panel of industry-renowned judges, including Tory McPhail, Executive Chef of Commander’s Palace; Marcelle Bienvenu, Chef, Author, and Instructor at the John Folse Culinary Institute; Gary Prell, Vice President Culinary Development, Centerplate; Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, The James Beard Foundation; and Chef Nedra Harris, Author and former “Hell’s Kitchen” competitor. The event was emceed by Chef Kevin Belton of the New Orleans School of Cooking and the PBS show “New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton.”

Chefs Taste Challenge Sponsors generously donated additional products for the event: Organic Wine – Bonterra; Beer – Lazy Magnolia; Chef Plates and Favors – Earthborn Studios; Cutting Boards – John Boos Co.; Chef Jackets – ChefWorks; Student servers – Café Reconcile.

The Chefs Taste Challenge is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and is held in conjunction with the Farm to Table Experience, which took place August 18-20, 2016. F2Te explores the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. For more information on F2Te, please visit f2texperience.com.