NEW ORLEANS - Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant, Deland, Florida was named the winner of the Gold award at the inaugural Farm to Table Chefs Taste Challenge (CTC), which took August 7, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. His winning creating was “NOLA – New Old Latin Asian” which featured Hatch Green Chile Panna Cotta, Smoked Redfish Brandade, Redfish Ceviche, Eggplant Massaman.
Chef Richard Jones of Green Dooor Gourmet, Nashville, Tennessee took home Silver honors for his dish, Shrimp and Grits Shrimp & Grits. His dish consisted of Ramp Butter-poached Louisiana Shrimp on Garbanzo Grits with Pickled Okra, Smoky Green Lentil Sauce Americain, Country Ham Crisp & Tabasco Butter.
Chef Matthew Farmer of Apolline Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana won the “Fan Favorite,” as decided on by the attendees, for his dish, which featured Roasted Sweet Potato Bisque, Confit Duck Leg, Fennel, Sorghum Roasted Sunflower Seeds.
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:
• Chef Craig Baker - Local Eatery & Pub, Indianapolis, Indiana
Chicken & Its Lunch – Cornmeal Fried Chicken Ballottine, Three Corn Infused Porridge, Summer Squash Chow Chow, House Hot Sauce.
Donated Products: Chicken- Louisiana Poultry Federation; Cornmeal - Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Yellow Squash - Texas Department of Agriculture
• Chef Frank Brigtsen - Brigtsen’s Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sweet & Sour Alligator with Curried Rice Calas Griddlecake & Tabasco Peach Jam.
Donated Products: Pineapples - Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Rocky Durham - Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Braised Beef Shortrib Street Taco with Red Bean Refritos and Yellow Macadamia Mole.
Donated Products: Short Ribs - Gonsoulin Ranch, New Iberia, Louisiana; Kidney Beans - Nebraska Department of Agriculture; Macadamia Nuts - Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Matthew Farmer - Apolline Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana
Roasted Sweet Potato Bisque, Confit Duck Leg, Fennel, Sorghum Roasted Sunflower Seeds.
Donated Products: Duck Leg Quarters - NATCO Food Service; Sorghum - Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Sweet Potatoes - Black Gold Farms, North Dakota.
• Chef Joshua Galliano - Companion Bakery, St. Louis, Missouri
Louisiana Wild Boar, Quinoa Granola, Coffee Roasted Carrots, Persimmon Mole.
Donated Products: Kau Coffee - Hawaii Department of Agriculture; Green Squash - Texas Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Richard Jones - Green Door Gourmet, Nashville, Tennessee
Shrimp & Grits – Ramp Butter-poached Louisiana Shrimp on Garbanzo Grits with Pickled Okra, Smoky Green Lentil Sauce Americain, Country Ham Crisp & Tabasco Butter.
Donated Products: Chickpeas - North Dakota Department of Agriculture; Whole Green Lentils - North Dakota Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Joel Navejas - The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm, Fort Collins, Colorado
Swamp & Turf – Smoked Pork & Dirty Rice Boudin Sausage, Turtle & Giblet Gravy, Ham Hock Red Lentils.
Donated Products: Smoked Pork Sausage - Manda Fine Meats, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jasmine Rice - Bertrand Rice, Elton, Louisiana; Split Red Lentils - North Dakota Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Hari Pulapaka - Cress Restaurant, DeLand, Florida
NOLA – New Old Latin Asian – Hatch Green Chile Panna Cotta, Smoked Redfish Brandade, Redfish Ceviche, Eggplant Massaman.
Donated Products: Green Hatch Chile Peppers - New Mexico Department of Agriculture.
• Chef Carmen Rodriguez - Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, Lake Arrowhead, California
Barbacoa Beignet with Slaw Curtido and May-Haw Sauce.
Donated Products: Beef Cheeks - NATCO Food Service; Tomatoes - New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
• Centerplate at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Crawfish & Grit Croquette. (Centerplate prepared the dish in place of Chef Elise Wiggins, who withdrew from the competition due to illness. This dish was not judged.)
The dishes were judged by a panel of industry-renowned judges, including Chef Sue Zemanick, the 2014 James Beard award recipient for “Best Chef - South;” Certified Master Chef Brad Barnes of the Culinary Institute of America; Kevin Belton of the New Orleans School of Cooking; Gary Prell, Vice President Culinary Development, Centerplate; and Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, The James Beard Foundation. Attendees enjoyed tasting portions of each chef’s creation and cast their votes for the “Fan Favorite.” News anchor Mike Hoss of WWL-TV emceed the event.
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.
The Chefs Taste Challenge is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, in partnership with the SoFAB Institute, the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Centerplate, Chef’s Roll and Gambit. The CTC is held in conjunction with the Farm to Table International Conference, taking place August 8-10, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. For more information on F2Ti, please visit www.f2t-int.com.