4th Annual Vitamix Challenge
Evan Hennessey cooking the winning dish
Evan Hennessey's Poached Scallop Mousse with Seaweed Ash, Long Island Cheese Squash Custard, "Olives", Bay Leaf Powder, Rockweed, Agretti, Squash Purée, Oyster Chip, and Aqua Pazza
Jon Cichon plating at the Vitamix Competition
Mauro Rossi piping macaron batter
Full Throttle Blending
With the signature sound of Vitamix horsepower, and a burst of energy and nerves, ICC attendees were sucked in the vortex of the Vitamix Challenge where six chefs battled it out for a full Vitamix suite and some cold hard cash. Plating their crafty concoctions on Front of the House plates, the challengers spun and grinded in front of a who’s who panel of judges: Elizabeth Falkner, Daniel Holzman, Rocco Dispirito, Richard Martin of Food Republic, and Vitamix’s own Christy Bezuijen. This year’s contestants included Evan Hennessey of Stages at One Washington, Mauro Rossi of The Art Institute of California, Josh Watkins of Carillon, Joel Gonzalez of JW Marriot Las Vegas, Jonathan Cichon of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, and RJ Cooper of Rogue 24.
The hotly contested competition became a tight race between Rossi and Hennesssey. Rossi used his Vita-Prep for more traditional purposes, such as creating a silky soup. But it was clear that his Celeriac Ajo Blanco with Saffron Macarons, Brandade, Jamón ibérico, and Rouille was loved by the judges, and his plating aesthetic is what we’ve come to expect from this veteran chef—simple, elegant, and balanced.
In a photo finish, Hennessey was ultimately crowned the victor with an impressive display of technique, skill, focus, and Vitamix know-how that helped him edge out the win . Stepping beyond simple texture modification, Hennessey actually cooked several of his dish’s elements in the blender, using a probe thermometer to closely monitor temperature, and adjusting the speed to cook and thicken components, such as a custard. Scraped-clean plates left the judges table for the dish pit. To the victor and his Vita-Prep go the glory.Contributing Writers: Dan Catinella and Meha Desai
Photos by: Anna Beeke, Clay Williams, Ellen Wolff, Ester Soligue, John Keon, Ken Goodman, Laura Thompson, Mark Kohlman, and Shannon Sturgis