On a hot early summer night, two chefs battled in the kitchens of the Flying Frog Cafe to see who could win bragging rights in the culinary realm. The Iron-Chef style competition saw Brian Canipelli of Cucina 24 and Brian Sonoskus of Tupelo Honey go head to head over one secret ingredient: carrot. Given a small budget and an assortment of random ingredients, then tossed in an unfamiliar kitchen with no connection to the outside world — no cell, no internet — the chefs and their teams put their heads together to come up with three unique dishes to be served to a crowd of over 100 later that evening. The crowd would judge the plates, based on a number of factors, including use of the secret ingredient.
The courses were served as follows, with the creator of each dish kept a secret:
1. Spring green and fennel salad with pork tenderloin, marinated carrots and a jalapeño-carrot glaze.
2. Seared scallop over carrot risotto with pea shoots.
3. Goat cheese and carrot pierogies, carrot and nut “pesto”-crusted halibut, shiitake broth
4. Smoked duck breast, carrot gnocchi, carrot-orange gastrique
5. ginger-carrot cake with ginger brittle and cream-cheese cardamom ice cream
6. chocolate mousse with carrot cream cheese “mousse”
Cucina 24 carried the competition, with the audience giving the restaurant’s dishes 6,009 points, versus Tupelo Honey’s 5,025. In the video below, Xpress food writer Mackensy Lunsford, WNC Magazine Editor Eric Seeger and Blue Water Seafood’s Cody Stokes alternately bitch, savor and puzzle their way through the six courses. The video also includes behind-the-scenes shots of Sonuskus, Canipelli and team pre-gaming it up.
Interested in attending a WNC Chefs Challenge event? Tickets are $39, not including tax and gratuity. Call the Flying Frog directly at 254-9411, or fill out the request form on WNC Magazine’s website.