Edmonton Food Fight – Everybody Wins

There is a veritable love-fest happening right now in the Edmonton food community. Pretty weird, considering this love I speak of stems from a fight.

I’m talking about Edmonton Food Fight, a bi-monthly event held at Kathryn Joel’s Get Cooking culinary school. The idea, conceived by Joel, her friends Mike Hudema and Eric Hanson was inspired by the food TV show, Knife Fight

The first fight (in February) was a battle between Brayden Kozak (Three Boars, Farrow), and Chopped Canada competitor, Shane Chartrand (Sage at the River Cree).

battle 1 poster
Check out Cindy Nguyen’s blogpost for a recap of Food Fight #1

Kozak won that round and came back to judge Fight #2 on April 24 along with me, and Corey Meyers of Acme Meat Market.

The second battle featured Spencer Thompson (Strathcona Farmers’ Market kitchen/ Toast Fine Catering) and Alexei Boldireff (S’wich at Grant MacEwan/S’wich Foodtruck).

I’m still a little awestruck at the energy, passion and community support under one roof, and all in the name of Edmonton Food.  It was an honour to be a part of this. It also made me realize how *$%#ing awesome Edmonton’s food scene is right now.

Lex & Spencer_Fotor

Credit must be given to the emcee, Mike Chalut of The Bounce (91.7 FM). He’s charming, sassy, hilarious, self-effacing and extremely talented. He brought tons of energy to the room, but, just as much energy came back from the crowd who cheered on the two chefs as they created several dishes in the one hour time.

Mike Chalut
Mike Chalut

The chefs were allowed to bring five ingredients of their own, the use of ingredients from Get Cooking’s pantry, plus three mystery ingredients. What would you do if these ingredients were presented to you?

ingredientsIMG_2361_Fotor
L to R: lamb testicles, Humboldt squid, fiddleheads.

When the timer started, all hell broke loose. Sweat poured. Things caught on fire.

One hour later, when the smoke cleared, Spencer created three dishes, Lex managed four.

Top: Grilled, marinated squid on lentils Bottom: Osso Buco style lamb testicles on creamy polenta (Missing: Fried squid with apricot jam)
Spencer Thompson’s dishes – Top: Grilled, marinated squid on lentils
Bottom: Osso Buco style lamb testicles on creamy polenta (Missing: Fried squid with apricot jam)

 

L: Tortilla-crusted squid with fiddleheads in pico de gallo consommé  R (top to bottom): Pan roasted lamb testicles with pickled fiddleheads; Smoked squid carbonara; Fiddlehead soufflé.
Alexei Boldireff’s dishes – L: Tortilla-crusted squid with fiddleheads in pico de gallo consommé
R (top to bottom): Pan roasted lamb testicles with pickled fiddleheads; Smoked squid carbonara; Fiddlehead soufflé.

judges_Fotor

The judging was not easy. The level of skill these two chefs have is undeniable and Brayden, Corey and I had much to consider with each dish placed before us: 1) Use of mystery ingredients 2) Creativity 3) Presentation 4)Taste.

LexIMG_2319_Snapseed_Fotor_Collage

Alexei was the winner, but only by three points! This was a very close match and I hope, because of these battles, people will seek out these chefs, buy their product and support them. The chefs can be proud, and so should Edmonton. We have incredible culinary talent in this city and because of events like this, everybody wins. Everybody benefits. Truly.

I can’t imagine having to come up with a recipe in a split second for an ingredient like lamb testicles but the Lex’s pan-roasted style and Spencer’s Osso Buco’d testes were sublime.  Humboldt squid was a new protein to most of us in the room. It’s not commonly used in these parts. The Humboldt squid is a giant predatory squid found in the Humboldt current of the eastern Pacific ocean. The pieces were cooked by the sous vide method before being given to the chefs. The texture, taste and tenderness of the squid is fantastic and I hope more chefs in Edmonton will feature it on their menus.

Lex spencer duo_Fotor

Major applause to Kathryn Joel and the people who have organized these Food Fights. Apparently, there’s nothing like a good fight to bring people together. Tickets for this event sold out in less than an hour so if you’re planning to attend Food Fight 3, you better hit that ticket button quick. Follow @FoodFightYEG on Twitter or like Edmonton Food Fight on Facebook to keep informed.