The Deer takes down the Stag
Check out our gallery above for some shots of the crowd, or visit Camilla Calnan's website for more great photos.
Last night, the summer-long 2010 WNC Chefs Challenge series opened with the culinary team from Deerfield Episcopal Retirement community narrowly edging out Biltmore Village’s fine dining centerpiece, Red Stag Grill, in a heated and highly caffeinated battle.
When the culinary teams arrived at The Flying Frog Café’s kitchen yesterday, they learned that locally roasted coffee was the secret ingredient for the menu. Each dish, from appetizer to dessert, had to incorporate the potentially overbearing bean.
The Red Stag Grill team, led by Chef Adam Hayes , offered a menu of rich dishes that included tender coffee-braised bison short ribs and finished with a coffee-encrusted chocolate truffle that likely left many diners wide awake until 2 a.m. The team’s entrées didn’t bear the flavor of coffee in an obvious manner, but rather its presence came through in the dishes’ smoky aroma.
The Deerfield team, led by Chef Cary Shackelford, took a lighter route in its menu, opening with a quinoa salad dressed with coffee sauce. The duck and scallop entrée found a flavorful harmony with coffee grinds. But it was the dessert that won the most points of any dish. Each team consisted of one head chef and two assistants, and Shackelford opted to bring his kitchen’s pastry chef Zoe Ann Davis to the competition, and the gamble paid off with a gorgeous presentation of chocolate pâté and Bavarian cream.
Both teams had a lot of supporters in the sold-out crowd of about 85 diners. Because the diners were judging the food, no one was told which team prepared each dish until all the score sheets had been turned in. Here’s the breakdown of each team’s menu:
Team Red Stag Grill prepared:
Coffee-braised bison short ribs on Swiss rosti, and coffee-blackened scallop served with parsnip purée
Coffee-smoked pork tenderloin with goat cheese risotto and slow-braised pork belly
Orange-spiced cake, coffee-encrusted truffle served over coffee-scented caramel
Team Deerfield prepared:
Quinoa salad with curry mayo and lavash points served with shallot jam, concasse tomato, and arugula
Coffee-encrusted duck breast and scallops served with mushroom ragù and melon relish
Coffee-chocolate pâté and coffee cinnamon Bavarian cream served in a Florentine cookie cup
Deerfield edged out Red Stag Grill by only 400 points (out of a total maximum of about 6,000 points for each team). While it may seem surprising that a team of chefs from a retirement community could do so well in this competition, Chef Shackelford has an impressive professional résumé of fine dining experience. And it goes to show that every chef will be a threat (and a treat) during this summer’s competitions.
Our congratulations to both teams on a well-fought competition. You’ve both set the bar very high for all the teams yet to face off.
The Deerfield team advances to compete on June 29 against the Dining Room team from the Inn on Biltmore Estate.
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