2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap-Up: Competitions Day Three

2010 International Chefs Congress Wrap-Up: Competitions Day Three


Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini Pastry Chefs and Judges Johnny Iuzzini and Jacques Torres
On day three, the final day, of the pastry competition, the tension was palpable. By today it was crystal clear: Executive Pastry Chef Consultant Johnny Iuzzini had helped us create just the right kind competition to draw out the skills (and a little bit of the sweat) of a contemporary pastry chef. The three competitors who made it to the last leg were Chef Ian Gresik from Drago Centro (LA), Chef Chris Ford of Trummer's on Main (Virginia), and Chef Ron Paprocki of Gordon Ramsay at the London in New York. Today's focus was all about chocolate; the finalists needed to prepare a chocolate showpiece, bonbons, and entremet (cake). The floor judges were chefs Gina de Palma, Jordon Kahn, Michael Laiskonis, and Frederick Monti. Ian Giesik, both a savory and pastry chef, wowed the audience with his sweet-savory interpretation of a bonbon: chocolate peanut butter agnolotti. Soon to be judged on the taste, originality, and presentation of their creations, the three competitors worked silently and diligently. The degustation judges, Chefs Albert Adria, Jaques Torres, Jeffrey Steingarten, Wylie DuFresne, and Elizabeth Falkner, had only words of praise for the competitors and the competition. "They've helped the profession to move ahead" said Chef Torres.

Chef Ron Paprocki Chef Ron Paprocki
Overall, IPC MC Keegan Gerhard commented on the level of talent displayed throughout the three days of stiff competition; Keegan, who has participated in several pastry competitions over the years, was blown away by the ground-breaking flavors, presentations, and techniques used in pre-desserts on day one, suggesting that it could change the way pastry chefs look at pre-desserts in the industry as a whole.

Chef Ron Paprocki
of Gordon Ramsay at the London - New York, NY



First Annual Vitamix Challenge First Annual Vitamix Challenge
In the First Annual StarChefs.com Vitamix Challenge, six contestants from across the country swooped in on the 2010 ICC for a whirlwind competition that pitted savory against sweet. Challengers of all profiles came to vie for the prize of the ultimate Vitamix package: a suite of Vitamix equipment plus a $500 gift certificate from American Express. Contestants were asked to submit an original Vitamix recipe and were also judged on overall dish presentation and flavor. Chef Keith Pooler of Bergamot in Somerville, MA exemplified the superior aeration that the Vitamix offers, creating an olive oil emulsion to accompany his pink peppercorn diver scallops, while Chef Tiffany Poe, a culinary instructor at Platt College in Tulsa prepared an Escoffier-inspired classic seafood mousse three ways, made with salmon, halibut, and lobster. Chef Chris Windus of Orlando, FL cooked fish in his Vitamix and Chef Manabu Inoue of Morimoto in New York City served an extremely complex dish that incorporated a basil and passion fruit milk frappé. Chef Noel Wilhite made a butter-poached sea bass. Finally, Chef Vincent Pantoliano of Miami prepared a goat cheese cheesecake inspired by Jordan Kahn's play on textures. Apparently, his dish also inspired the judges. Judges Marcus Samuelsson, Michael Anthony, and Harold Dieterle gave him first place, and awarded second place to Chef Chris Windus's dish of loup de mer with carrot espelette noodle.

Chef Vincent Pantoliano
of Meat Market Miami - Miami, FL

SOMM SLAM sponsored by Steelite, Constellation Wines, and Wines of Spain

The final round of the Somm Slam The final round of the Somm Slam
The final round of the Somm Slam was a face-off between Andrew Myers of CityZen (Washington, DC) and William Sherer of Aureole (Las Vegas, NV). The line-up of bottles was provided by Constellation Wines and ranged from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a Ruffino magnum, and they were all poured into beautiful Rona glasses by Steelite. New York Chef Iacopo Falai of Falai prepared the three courses and challenged the somms with flavors like raw horseradish and Jerusalem artichoke. Master Somm and Slam MC Geoff Kruth guided the audience through each dish, picking out potential ingredient trip ups, and asking the contestants about their pairing strategies. Sherer approached his pairings from a texture and flavor perspective, using the wine to “fill in where the dish was deficient.” Myers went with a more traditional method matching proteins with tannins, acid to acid, and fruit to fruit, but also considered perimeter flavors.

The first dish was Foie Gras with Pine Nut Biscuit, Moscato d’Asti Caviar, Pickled Butternut Squash, and Horseradish Foam; Sherer picked a 2008 Robert Mondavi Fumet Blanc for its acid, grassiness, background oak, and melon flavors, while Myers went with a more bold 2009 Columbia Valley Hogue Gewurtztraminer for its fun spiciness and touch of sweetness. Dish two was Chef Falai’s Sheeps’ Milk Ricotta Agnolotti, Peas, Di Palo’s Burrata, and Tomato Granita. Kruth was hoping one of the somm-testants would be brave enough to pair a red with the pasta dish, but neither took the leap. Sherer went with the Ruffino Orvieto for its delicacy but noted that he was concerned about the flavor of September peas. Myers went bold with a 2008 Marlborough Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, noting that he “had a fun time with this pairing.” The final course was Milk-Fed Piglet, Pear, Hazelnut, Smoked Lardo, and Jerusalem Artichoke. Sherer selected a 2007 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon for its silky texture and lack of American oak; Myers paired a 2007 Clos du Bois Tempranillo wanting to highlight fruit in the wine and the dish. At the end of the tally, the victor was clear and announced on the Congress Main Stage: Andrew Myers took the grand prize, a trip to Italy to visit three Ruffino Estates—not to mention bragging rights to saying he won the StarChefs.com Somm Slam!

Andrew Myers
of CityZen - Washington, DC

By Kathleen Culliton, Katherine Martinelli, and Amanda McDougall