WNC Chefs Challenge 14: Life’s a Peach
By Del Holston
If last night’s semi-final round of the WNC Chefs Challenge had a theme song it would have been “Peaches” by the Presidents of the United States of America.“Moving to the country, going to eat a lot of peaches”. That’s because it was the secret ingredient that Chef Nate Allen from Knife & Fork in Spruce Pine and Chef Jordan Arace from Posana Café in Asheville faced in their quest for dining domination.
When I first heard that peaches were being used I wondered where the organizer’s had purchased them. The secret ingredient is normally locally sourced, but I knew that the Asheville area isn’t exactly in full peach season. I’ve been watching a peach tree humbly blossom in my backyard, and the fruit is nowhere near ripe.
Our master of ceremony, Bob Bowles, soon cleared up my question. In keeping with the locavore tradition of the competition (using food grown within 100 miles), challenge organizers traveled down the mountain to the foothills of South Carolina where they picked up a bounty of white and red peaches.
The chef’s creative juices were certainly flowing as the menu they served last night offered everything from traditional peach pie with a kick to unique combinations leaving this Foodtopian wondering how did they make that? Here’s a run down of the menu.
Course 1: Posana Café
Peach salad with charred peach, radishes, golden beets, and tellegio cheese
Course 2: Knife & Fork
Fried spiced rock shrimp with radicchio and fennel
Wood oven-roasted peaches and peach salsa
Course 3: Posana Café
Swiss chard-wrapped salmon torchon with speck and a peach demi-glace
Warm-burst cherry tomato salad
Pickled peach with house ricotta and pistachio-pink peppercorn vinaigrette
Course 4: Knife & Fork
Roast duck breast with peaches
Dandelion and red Russian kale with peach-basil sauce
Course 5: Posana Café
Peach gâteau (sweet corn cake, peach mousse, and jasmine green tea-white chocolate mousse)
Course 6: Knife & Fork—Rated #1 dish
Fried peach pie with Gruyère ice cream
Macerated peaches with mint syrup and boozy caramel
In the end, by a margin of 6.6% it was the Knife & Fork team that came out on top with each of their dishes taking the top three spots. Congratulations to Nate Allen and his teammates Brenda Poole and Gaelen Corazme for moving on to the final competition.
A special kudos belongs to the Posana team. In keeping with their restaurant’s accreditation, they created all gluten-free dishes. Chef Jordan Arace, along with Rebekah Abrams and Ben Jordan, did an amazing job.
Next up is the final round, taking place during the Grand Tasting at the WNC Magazine Asheville Wine & Food Festival on August 13, 2011. The team from Knife and Fork will be squaring off against Chef Michael Gonzales and his team from the Bistro on Biltmore Estate. This popular event will sell out, so be sure to get your tickets early. Visit www.ashevillewineandfood.com.
Del Holston is the Online Relations Manager for the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he manages www.ExploreAsheville.com and www.FoodtopianSociety.com.