Seems like it was only yesterday that I was at the inaugural Edmonton Food Fight, but the time has come again for another chef battle! The premise: Two chefs. Three ingredients. One hour to plate at least two dishes. Last Friday, Get Cooking hosted the second chef battle, this time featuring Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market Toast Fine Catering‘s Chef Spencer Thompson and S’wich Food Truck‘s Chef Alexei Boldireff. Ticketholders watched tableside and cheered on their favourite chef. Is there any other way you’d want to spend a Friday night? I don’t think so. Let’s fight!
Feedback from past ticketholders were well received by the event organizers, the night drastically more entertaining due to the great commentary from MC 91.7 The Bounce‘s Mike Chalut. Not only was there a full commentary on what the chef’s were doing, the crowd was able to participate in discussions, try the dishes plated by both chefs, and the night’s vibe was fantastic! The environment was exactly what you’d expect from a chef fight and similar to what you’d see on the show Knife Fight.
Judges for the night seemed equally excited and ramped up as the crowd. Chef Brayden Kozak, past winner of Edmonton Food Fight and of Three Boars Eatery returned as a judge this time around, alongside Corey Meyer of ACME Meat Market and Twyla Campbell, CBC Edmonton restaurant reviewer and food writer. After some delicious canapes from both Chef Spencer Thompson and Chef Alexei Boldireff, the chefs, judges and the crowd were ready! What’s missing? How about some mystery ingredients!
The mystery ingredients of the night: fiddlehead ferns, Humboldt (or jumbo) squid, and lamb fries. That’s lamb testicles, by the way. The crowd went wild, oo-ing and ah-ing and a couple of “ew!”. A minimum of two plates were expected from each chef, utilizing any combination of the mystery ingredients. What on earth would you do with lamb testicles? I would bread them and fry it! Or maybe thinly sliced and sear? Chefs were given ten minutes to prepare and gather ingredients and then we were off!
Thanks to my friend Big Addie, I wasn’t as shy this time around in the kitchen and around the chefs. Gotta get right in the chaos! Things heated up in the kitchen really fast, both chefs working quickly to complete their dishes. In comparison to the first Edmonton Food Fight, the kitchen seemed a lot more organized and the pantry, fridge, equipment and plates were a lot more accessible. Both chefs’ cooking styles were also quite similar, very calm, very efficient. Not as much dashing around as the last round!
Chef Alexei Boldireff was the first to plate, a tortilla-crusted squid with a pico de gallo consumé (poured tableside). Similar to the last round, chefs were able to bring in up to five ingredients to the kitchen and a pico de gallo broth was one of Chef Alexei’s. His other ingredients: fresh kimchi, pork fat, and pork casings. Interesting! A+ for presentation and flavour! Wasting no time, he started whipping up egg whites for a chocolate soufflé!
Blink a few times and Chef Alexei was already putting together his second plate: sautéed lamb testicles, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and served up on a warm kimchi salad with pickled fiddleheads to cut the fattiness of the testicles. Yum!
Two plates to Chef Alexei, the pressure was on for Chef Spencer Thompson! His choice of ingredients to bring into the fight were buttermilk, harissa (an African hot chili pepper paste), garlic confit, garam masala, and chicken reduction. His first dish to the judges: a Harissa-marinated and grilled squid with dill, capers, garlic confit served up with lentils and crostini, garnished with pickled radishes and a dill vinaigrette. Beautiful and delicious!
Chef Spencer’s second plate of the night was a lamb testicle subo, with San Marzano tomatoes and arugula salad, all on top of a creamy buttermilk polenta (drools!) and grated with Parmesan cheese. There was so much happening in the kitchen but I’m pretty sure this was one of the first dishes Chef Spencer started, throwing an array of ingredients into a pressure cooker early in the fight. Two dishes tied!
Chef Spencer wasn’t the only one using fancy equipment. Meanwhile, Chef Alexei was using the pasta machine and ended up making fresh fettuccine for his third plate: a smoked squid carbonara. Simple, but super flavourful! I didn’t even catch him making the dough or smoking the squid!
He also started making lamb testicle sausages! As if keeping track of everything else wasn’t enough, Chef Alexei’s goal was to put out five plates. Super ambitious and displaying a variety of techniques!
Only a few minutes left to cook, Chef Spencer threw down his final plate, a piece of Humboldt squid dredged in flour and buttermilk and fried. Sadly, I didn’t get to try this plate but simple dishes like this one always entice me the most!
Much like the reality shows we see on our screens, not all ideas pull through! Chef Alexei’s final dish, barely making it out to the judges, was an undercooked chocolate soufflé and fiddlehead marmalade, courtesy of a dysfunctional oven! I think the mishap cost him dearly, his lamb testicle sausages still on the grill, were unable to make it to the plate in time for the judges. Sad face!
Just as quickly as it started, the fight was over! It was now time for the judges to make their decision. Chef Spencer Thompson successfully plated three plates and after much deliberation, Chef Alexei Boldireff with four. That chocolate soufflé was literally thrown in front of the judges. Dish highlights of the night: Chef Alexei’s flavourful squid with pico de gallo broth and Chef Spencer’s slow cooked lamb testicles over the creamy polenta. So who was the winner?
By a mere three points, the title of Edmonton Food Fight 2 winner goes to Chef Alexei Boldireff of S’wich Food Truck! Similar to round one, Chris from Knifewear Edmonton was there to award our chefs with engraved knives. Congratulations to Chef Alexei!
Amazing amount of effort, creativity, and skills displayed by both chefs! I absolutely love watching chefs cook and can’t wait for the next fight. Joe even came out with me for the night (I consider him a non-foodie, or foodie-boyfriend!) and he really enjoyed the fight too! Super entertaining and fun for all! Edmonton Food Fight already has the next two chefs lined up and the event will be announced this Thursday, April 30. Follow Edmonton Food Fight on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news! Who would you want to see in future battles? Leave a comment below!Edmonton Food Fight