Blend to Glory: The Third Annual Vitamix Challenge
Chef Tyler Anderson prepares his mussel and scallop sausage dish
For a third year, chefs from across the country gathered at the Park Avenue Armory to go blade-to-blade in an all-out whir-off featuring the blending, creaming, chopping, and grinding capacities of Vitamix. Seven chefs, each packing a Vitamix blender outfitted with the latest technology, brought their best recipes before an intimidating panel of judges, featuring Rising Star Chefs Richard Blais and Paul Qui, Vitamix President Jodi Berg, and Authors Matt and Ted Lee.
Challenge judges Jodi Berg, Paul Qui, and Matt and Ted Lee look on as Pastry Chef Philip Speer explains his dish
If there were an award for “Most Creative Application,” it would go to Chef Christopher Bates (Hotel Fauchere, Milford, Pennsylvania), who hooked his Vitamix up to a smoking gun. The trick earned him some attention on Twitter and added further pizzazz to some smoked aïoli, the accompaniment to his “Q-ter Tots”—health conscious tater tots made with quinoa. Chef Jason Bond of Boston’s Bondir also impressed with his pantry of dehydrated herbs and flowers, including hand-harvested bee pollen, dehydrated carrot pulp, and fennel sugar. The judges praised the texture of Chef Tyler Anderson’s (Millwright's Restaurant & Tavern, Simsbury, Connecticut) mussel and scallop sausage, and gave a thumbs up to Chef Anna Levien (Everyday Vegan (and Raw) by Anna, Sparta, New Jersey) for her raw play on lasagna with marinara sauce and pine nut “cheese”—the result of what she calls “uncooking.”
The judges contemplate the competitors' dishes
Meanwhile the photographers on-site swarmed around 2012 Rising Star Chef Phillip Lopez’s station as he plated a complex and visually compelling dish, Jasmine Dondurma with Lebanese Tea Foam, inspired by the chef’s childhood adventures backpacking across Europe and the near-East with his mother. For those of you lucky enough to live within eating distance of NOLA, you’ll be able to try the same dish on the menu at Root, where Lopez is head chef.
New Orleans Chef Phillip Lopez plating his Jasmine Dondurma with Lebanese Tea Foam
But it was 2012 Rising Star Pastry Chef Philip Speer (Uchi, Austin, Texas) who took first prize with his toothsome dish, a salute to hangover-ready Mexican chorizo and eggs, fancied up with a rye tuile and lime cloud. “I figure most of you had a pretty late night last night,” he said as the judges (all attendees at the ICC Welcome Dinner the night prior) gratefully dug in.
Competition winner Pastry Chef Philip Speer's Scallop Chorizo, Fried Egg Emulsion, Corn Crumble, Chives, and Rye Crisp
Later on the Main Stage, Berg announced Anderson as runner-up in The Vitamix Challenge. The Chef’s reward: a Vita-Prep® 3 and a $250 American Express Gift Certificate. For his winning dish, Speer netted the ultimate Vitamix package, including a Vita-Prep® 3, Vitamix® XL™, The Quiet One™, and $500 American Express Gift Certificate.
StarChefs.com Managing Editor Will Blunt, Vitamix President Jodi Berg, Winner Philip Speer, and StarChefs.com CEO Antoinette Bruno
By Jessica Dukes