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DURHAM WINS FIRST SHOWDOWN IN FESTIVAL | Running with a Fork
Rob DeWalt | The New Mexican
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
LINK TO ARTICLE WITH IMAGES
Want to know what it's like to taste 21 different chicken/trout dishes in one sitting?
Ask me, because that's exactly what happened to me as a judge at the Nov. 5 Chef's Showdown presented by the inaugural Santa Fe Harvest Festival (HarvestFestival.santafe.com) at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. The event, a fundraiser for local nonprofit Cooking With Kids, drew curious food enthusiasts, resort guests and gamblers who probably wondered what all the white coats and notepads were doing at the bar...I mean kitchen.
More than 20 local chefs competed to make it to the second elimination round, and it was a serious uphill battle for some of them. Each chef was given a different station — Asian, pizza, etc. — at the hotel's Painted Parrot buffet, and they weren't allowed to use any special ingredients from their restaurant or home kitchens. They didn't have a sous chef to boss around, either.
The competitors each received a basket containing chicken breast, pancetta, rainbow trout, chiles (chipotle, dried red), goat cheese and artichoke hearts, and they were then tasked with making one dish in about 45 minutes. The more ingredients used, the higher the points given, but points could always be deducted later for appearance and taste by myself and fellow judge, Santa Fe Reporter food writer Zane Fischer.
I haven't had chicken or trout since this competition, and I'm not going to embarrass a chef just to tell you why. I will say, however, that the first rule of serving chicken is to actually cook it first. Enough said. The judging was completely blind, so Mr. Fischer and I had no way to cheat, although a few of the plates we sampled could be attributed to particular chefs based on their complexity and presentation.
Emerging victorious from the first round were 12 semifinalists who were then whittled down to four finalists: Rocky Durham of the Santa Fe Community College Culinary Arts program (and many great restaurants and culinary events in and around Santa Fe), Kirstin Griffin of Cafe Café, Eric Hall of Fuego at La Posada Inn and Spa and Steve Lemon of Ó Eating House.
SOME MORE LINKS
COOKING WITH KIDS | It's about showing up and getting involved with one's own community. What better way than helping to grow smart, healthy citizenry through the vehicle of food.
ESTRELLA DEL NORTE VINEYARD | My partners in bringing New Mexican wine and food into America's spotlight.
BUILDERS SOURCE APPLIANCE SHOWROOM | The most inspiring appliance showrooms in the Southwest. Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces or El Paso. You'll be inspired, surprised and amazed.
NEW MEXICO MAGAZINE | Please read through some of my articles for New Mexico's Department of Tourism rag (or just look at the pictures).