WNC Chefs Challenge: A Hoppin’ Good Time

I couldn’t resist the beer pun, as local beer was the secret ingredient last night for Chefs Brian Ross of Dough and Michael Marshall of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort. The teams had their pick from the local beers on tap at Chestnut to not only incorporate but celebrate in their dishes.

Photos taken by Camilla Calnan Photography:

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While beer is undeniably a “fun” ingredient, I also recognize it as a challenging one,  which made it all the more impressive that the chefs were able to so thoughtfully utilized it in each dish. Both chefs used Asheville Brewing Co‘s Rocket Girl IPA. Chef Marshall made a sauce with it for his lump crab starter and Chef Ross used it to steam his mussels in what turned out to be the number one dish of the evening. Other beers on the menu included Foothills People’s Porter, French Broad‘s IPA and Wee Heavier, Pisgah Pale Ale and Pisgah Stout (used by both teams in their desserts).

The mussels (Dough), chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel (Dough) and beef tenderloin (Harrah’s), were all favorites at our table, and also happened to be the top dishes of the night respectively. I was especially impressed with Dough for using beer in each element of their dessert: Pisgah Stout Chocolate Cake with Foothills People’s Porter Ice Cream and Wee Heavier Caramel. It was a true and sweet celebration of local beer.

Both chefs had an excellent showing, and true to the pattern of past challenges this year, it was a very close competition. The audience was split 50/50 and the judges’ were 52/48 in favor of Chef Ross for a total score of 51/49 with team Dough as the winner.

The menu:

Jumbo Lump Crab and Potato Napoleon with Cucumber Almond Salad and Rocket Girl IPA Sauce (Harrah’s)

Salmon Confit, Pisgah Pale Ale Crab Fritter, French Broad IPA Vinaigrette (Dough)

Rocket Girl Steamed Mussels with Chicken Sausage, Ginger Orange Nage, Parisian Gnocchi (Dough)

People’s Porter Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Parsnip, Gouda Grits and People’s Porter Reduction (Harrah’s)

Pisgah Stout Sweet Potato-Chocolate Pancake with Coconut and Candied Bacon (Harrah’s)

Pisgah Stout Chocolate Cake with People’s Porter Ice Cream and Wee Heavier Caramel (Dough)

Congrats to both teams! It was a fun, festive night!

Next week: The Quarterfinals begin with Chef Daniel Wright and Tomato Jam Cafe vs. Chef Dan Moore and DoubleTree Catering. Get your tix here: http://bit.ly/Ye99Ev.



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