NOLA’s first-ever Farm to Table Chefs Taste Challenge happened this past weekend and I was privileged to have media access. Let me be the first to tell you that ANY event featuring food and drinks is my type of party! Plus, getting a $129 ticket comp’d doesn’t hurt — at all! Not only was I there tasting and voting for the top dishes, but I also blogged live via my Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
These 10 chefs from around the U.S., competed for the Gold Award:
Chef Craig Baker, Local Eatery & Pub, Indianapolis, Indiana
Chef Frank Brigtsen, Brigtsen’s Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana
Chef Rocky Durham, Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chef Matthew Farmer, Apolline Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana
Chef Joshua Galliano, Companion Bakery, St. Louis, Missouri
Chef Richard Jones, Green Door Gourmet, Nashville, Tennessee
Chef Joel Navejas, The Farmhouse, Fort Collins, Colorado
Chef Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant, DeLand, Florida
Chef Carmen Rodriguez, Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, Lake Arrowhead, California
Chef Elise Wiggins, Panzano, Denver, Colorado
From left to right, Chef Hari P, and his NOLA dish, received the GOLD award, Chef Richard Jones took home the Silver award for his Shrimp and Grits dish, and NOLA Chef Matthew Farmer (Apolline Restaurant) was the Fan Favorite award for his Sweet Potato Bisque.
The challenge was held on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Ernest N. Memorial Convention Center in downtown NOLA. Upon entry, I was greeted with my media badge, voting card + pen, and a wine glass (you know I was excited about that part). Inside, the chefs manned their stations that were around the room, in no particular order. Each chef had his own station and sous chef to help prepare dishes for the hundreds of foodies waiting to entice their palettes. Each dish was paired with a white or red wine.
Crawfish with Stoned-Ground Grits and New Potatoes
As you can see, Bonterra Organic Wine sowed up the night with its amazing wine selection. I’m googling where to buy as I type (such the multi-tasker).
I thoroughly enjoyed all dishes, but above all, if I had to choose three, my faves would be Chef Carmen’s Barbacoa Beignet, Chef Rocky’s Braised Beef Shortrib Street Taco, and… it’s a toss up between Chef Frank’s Sweet & Sour Alligator and Chef Matt’s Roasted Sweet Potato Bisque. But Chef Craig’s Chicken & Its Lunch was also tasty. See! Being a voting foodie is über difficult, so, I’ll just say that those were my top five.
I had a super great time at the Chefs Taste Challenge. To say this was the first annual event, it’s the start of something truly amazing. There was a great turnout and I’m sure next year, even more foodies will show up and show out. I met some great people and made connections. Food, drinks, AND networking? What more can a gal ask for?!
Thanks to my good friend Naomi and her superiors at the Convention Center for hooking me up with such an awesome night. I highly appreciate the access and look forward to many more events like this.
For more info or to plan to attend next year’s event, check out the official site.