Monday, December 29, 2008

Iron Chef: what is myth, passion + tomatoes

amuse bouche ~ playfully taut shot of freshly puréed tomatoes, watermelon topped with a layer of pop rocks.......artistry of Chef Erika Davis of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Catching up with my 2008 posts!

This past summer I had the opportunity to be on the panel of judges for a local Iron Chef competition hosted by Publix Aprons Cooking School and Shands Jacksonville for the annual Art & WineFest at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront.

First off ~ my apologies about the photography.

These were done by *ahem* a friend in between the evening's gourmet tastings + open bar, so you can well imagine.

Well, at least he was having a good time.

Alas, the photos are by unless otherwise noted.

Also, I have been having a serious problem with people borrowing my photos without asking (((sigh))). Please see copyright notice @ the sidebar and be nice.

So the secret ingredient of the evening?

from the left: Chef ?, Chef Tony Corrente, Chef Erika Davis, Chef Grace Glhan discover the secret ingredient......tomatoes

The annual event is hosted to benefit the UF & Shands Medical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Jacksonville Florida. It's a community event that unites local chefs, restaurateurs, artists, collectors, the business + medical community as well as food enthusiasts.


I thought to share with you just a glimpse......

Chef Patrick Walley of Publix Aprons Cooking School overseeing the assembly........

for the babies: proceeds for the event benefit the babies in the UF & Shands Medical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

toasty beginnings: an earthy bowl of tomato soup with potatoes, bacon and of course toppled with truffle oil

perfectly caramilzed scallops with chutney like tomato salsa served wtih blanched asparagus al denté to the bite

savory + sweet: grilled snapper lovingly takes bed with yellow heirloom tomatoes + topped with just a breath of microgreens

*Photo courtesy of Publix Aprons Cooking School
Chef Patrick Walley, Publix Aprons Cooking School

I met Chef Patrick a couple of years ago when I signed up for The Basics of Culinary at the cooking school. He definitely inspires his students to learn skills with great ease, fun and insight. Also to note, the local 'Iron Chef' competitions hosted by the cooking school have become his signature appeal which is a perfect example of how Chef Patrick is dedicated to building community + comradarie around the gourmet food culture. The cooking school also offers everythig from knife skills, dim sum, Italian cooking, regional cooking, kids camps and sushi making. They are also noted for having incredible celebrity guests as Top Chef's Tom Colicchio, Food Network's Michael Chiarello and the ever cool Chef Ming Tsai.

You can learn more about the cooking school here.

Also here's my interview with Chef Patrick Walley.

TM: What made you decide to become a chef?

CPW: Most chef's will claim that watching their mother, aunt or grandma magical whip up childhood treats in the kitchen is what spurred them into the crazy world of culinary. This is partly true for myself.....but I can pin point the moment that I just know that I had a connection with food. My senior year in high school in West Virginia. I needed to fill a class so I enrolled in home economics and that hand made cherry pie scored me a date with a very pretty girl. I found the power to lure women my way!! WOW. The rest is as they say, history.

TM: What was your first job in a professional kitchen?

CPW: Mostly every chef started as a dishwasher, or they should have. I to was a sud buster at a local chain steakhouse in my hometown. My true first pro chef job came when I had ran into C.M.C Michael Russell at a culinary salon in Morgantown West Virginia in 1985. I apprenticed under Chef Russell for 3 years at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor MI. This experience at such an early stage of my career begin shape my view of what great food should be about.

TM: What experience was a turning point that formed your viewpoint as a chef today?

CPW: For years chef's have been talking about knowing where your product comes from. From 2003 to 2005, I was the executive chef at an upscale guest ranch in western Colorado where I sourced 95% of my products from local ranchers and farmers. Hand picking my eggs once a week, helping harvest local fruit and vegetable to be served to our guests that night to petting the goat that gave the milk to produce great unpasturized cheeses. Knowing the people that put their heart and soul into producing the highest quality product that the earth would allow them.

TM: Who do you admire and why?

CPW: I admire the individual who is willing to take a culinary risk and taste or cook something different. Everyone has the ability to change what they consume on a daily basis and I applaud and admire the people that go out of their way to try something different.

TM: What do you enjoy the most about your work?

CPW: I enjoy introducing someone to a product that they have not used before but may have walked past a hundred times and always wondered how to cook this product. I enjoy the fact that I am making a difference in someone's daily life by helping them expand their culinary repertoire and getting them out of the rut of cooking the same dishes with the same ingredients over an over again.

TM: What is one of your favorite meals.....ever?

CPW: A year or so ago I was in Charleston South Caroline visiting some friends and was invited to a oyster roast party. Every 20 minutes a fresh batch of steamed local oysters came spilling out onto a huge wooden table, where a group of 10-12 people would quickly devour the succulent bivalves quickly as possible. No white linen tablecloth, napkin, chair or snooty waiters; just impeccably fresh food.

TM: Well said.....*just impeccably fresh food*


Passionate Eater said...

You said that Chef Walley said, "impeccably fresh food" well, but I just wanted to say that you do Taste Memory well. Well said TM, for the whole year of 2008, I can't wait for more posts in 2009!

Thistlemoon said...

WOW, what an awesome experience, Ingar! I bet you had a great night! Happy 2009!!!!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Happy New Year to you! xo, carol

Núria said...

Great job girl! This must have been exciting and soooooo interesting :D

Is it true that people "steal" your pictures? How awful is that!

taste memory said...

passionate eater ~ hey sweetie; as always thanks so much for your kind comments. definitely look forward to reading about your adventures as well!

JennDZ ~ hi Jenn/hugs back at you!

Simply GFree ~ TY ( h u g s )

Nuria ~ hiya! hope you had fantastic holidays.....