Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chef's challenge

This morning I got up early and went up to the Binford Farmer's Market to watch Round 2 of the Indy Chef's Challenge, which is sponsored by Slow Food Indy. If you've ever seen the TV show Iron Chef, you're somewhat familiar with the format: four chefs arrive to the event not knowing what they will be cooking; they are given 1-2 primary ingredients which the dish they create must contain. Then in the case of the Indy Chef's Challenge, they're given $20 and 20 minutes to shop for other ingredients there at the farmer's market. Everything except salt, pepper, and onions must be local and from the farmer's market.

Today's key ingredients were skirt steak and kim-chi, also locally produced and/or made. The four chefs had one hour to make their dishes. They'd just started prepping when I was there, and it was really cool to watch them work. There was one chef in particular who was interesting to watch because she was so precise with her cutting: her vegetables were so even and perfect. Even the way she placed things in little dishes was "pretty" and she never had a messy station. Wish I could cook like that!

Just as the hour was winding down, it began to rain. First, just a little, but then it began to POUR. The chefs just kept working through it, even though sometimes they were getting wet. Then we begin to hear thunder in the distance. At this point, only the most serious Foodies such as myself were still hanging out watching. 

One chef, Miguel from Mama Carolla's, made a beautiful potato cake and a very nice shiitake mushroom sauce which he made with Trader's Point Creamery (an awesome local dairy) milk. He served rare slices of steak on the potato cake and then topped it with the sauce and some herbs. I'm not a mushroom person, but it was so beautiful I would have eaten it up if given the opportunity. 

Another chef (not sure of her name, but she said she had just graduated from Ivy Tech in May) made a very attractive chutney with cherries and the kim-chi (and some other stuff), and served the meat on top of the chutney. The other two chefs came up with dishes using vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, and beans. I know it must have been a really difficult decision for the judges, but in the end, Miguel took this round. So now he'll have a spot in the final, which will be sometime in August at the Indianapolis City Market. I definitely want to go to that!

Of interest to my local Foodie friends: I got to talking with the chef supervisor, an instructor in the Ivy Tech culinary arts program. I asked if Ivy Tech had any classes or events for "hobby" chefs like ourselves. He said they don't have anything now, because they don't really have the facilities. But a new building will open in the Spring of 2010 in the 71st street area, and plans are in the works to have something then. Sounds like something to look forward to!