Did you go?
My perspective was probably different than most – being the person behind the curtain. The difference was not smoke and mirrors, but lots of hard work by very talented chefs, wine makers, food producers, farmers, food artisans and volunteers. For me the excitement was seeing the streams of people coming through the entrance and immediately awed by the possibility of what lay ahead of them. Which aisle to take or do you just go with the flow?
Even more exciting was when you reached the end of the first row – there was a whole new arena of food producers – the Blue Ridge Food Venture Village (www.advantagewest.com/content.cfm/content_id/144/section/food). With twenty food producers, from fish cakes – to raw chocolate – to pickled bamboo shoots – all local small businesses looking for their product niche and a place on your pantry shelf.
Did you see the WNC Chefs Challenge and witness the heated frenzy of the competing teams? That is where I spent most of my time. It was exciting to set the stage, arrange the professional ranges and refrigerators donated by Ferguson, and design the work flow for the chefs. In the twelve previous challenges I knew the chefs were somewhat nervous, but here – in a one-hour challenge – their eyes revealed an apprehension that I had not seen before.
It seemed that all was over before it started. Plate after plate – six different courses – made their way to the judges table and the chefs table. Everyone seemed be a charter member of the clean plate club as they savored the dishes – slowly. Therefore the judging took twice as long as I had anticipated. It was amazing that the fish dessert received the highest scores – very original and creative dish from Chef Lyon of Curras Nuevo Cuisine (currasasheville.com/). In the end, it was a difference of 37 points out of 1280 available points that declared the winner. Chef Boyer from the Inn on Biltmore (www.biltmore.com/stay/) took the top honors -the coveted Green Chefs Jacket and the title of the Best Chef In Western North Carolina 2010!
I’ll say it again – great food, wonderful wineries, and a spirit of adventure in making WNC a place wealthy with local, sustainable, interesting food and wine! We are the true winners. Can hardly wait for August 13, 2011 to come around!
Here is a link if you would like to see a short video of the event: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=QayTChEXmfg&feature=player_embedded )