Tonight, WNC Magazine will host the fourth battle in the WNC Chefs Challenge Competitions. This week’s challenge is a tete a tete between the Early Girl Eatery and Moveable Feast catering company — and so far the first heat that has still had seats available up to the last minute. Why is that? Perhaps people are wondering, “What could I expect to see from a restaurant well known for breakfast in a dinner battle against a caterer?”
Vijay Shastri, owner of host restaurant the Flying Frog, says that this battle has great potential, actually. Chef Sparancino of Moveable Feast, he says, is incredibly talented — he just so happens to be focusing on the world of catering at the moment.
WNC editor-in-chief has this to say about Sparancino:
“Chef David Anthony Sparacino specializes in contemporary cooking, which is innovative yet honors the old-world European tradition. His dishes are a modern interpretation of regional cuisine and involve intense research of quality, application of modern cooking techniques, top-notch products, vibrant colors and clean, elegant presentations.”
John Stehling, owner of the Early Girl, also has plenty of experience under his belt that has nothing to do with country ham and eggs. Chef Stehling’s no slouch, having worked in the restaurant business since the age of 25. He opened the renowned Hominy Grill in Charleston with his brother, then went on to open a restaurant on Wall Street in downtown Asheville that has been featured in Southern Living as well as the New York Times, just to name a couple.
These competitions seem to have an the element of surprise to them — see this blog post about the first heat, for example. On week one of the competitions, Deerfields, a retirement community, beat the Red Stag, a swanky restaurant in a swankier hotel. Last week saw the Admiral barely scrape by Pomodoro’s (who many considered to be the underdog) by a fraction of a percentage point, once all of the votes were tallied.
The first dish of the night last week, prepared by Pomodoro’s, was a perfect example of how little we — even those of us in the business of recognizing these things — actually know about a chef based upon the menu that he or she serves in the restaurant that employs him or her.
The dish? An apple-tarragon haddock sausage with truffled white asparagus mousse, arugula and salted caramel. That sounds to me like an Admiral dish. Shows you what happens when the chefs are instructed to not make anything that resembles their signature food.
Interested in buying tickets to tonight’s competition to see whose cuisine will reign supreme? Call the Flying Frog directly 254-9411. Tickets are $39, not inclusive of tax and gratuity. Event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Frog (downstairs dining room), located at the corner of Haywood and Battery Park in downtown Asheville.