Yesterday's Chef Challenge at the Downtown Farmers Market in Pioneer Park, was the best yet. I've been judging this Iron Chef-style cooking competition, held as a kick-off event for Downtown Alliance's Dine O'Round, for several years now, but Saturday's cooking knocked me out.Chefs Matthew Lake, of downtown's new zY restaurant, Billy Sotelo of Oasis Cafe and Jerry Liedtke of Tin Angel were the competitors.
The secret ingredient was fresh red and white currants which had to be used in every course, and the chefs had to come up with a three-course menu to wow me and my fellow judges Kathy Stephenson of the Salt Lake Tribune and Andrew Wallace of Downtown Alliance. All ingredients had to come from the Farmers Market and had to be purchased before the secret ingredient was revealed.
Well, it couldn't have been a prettier day to sit outdoors and have fantastic food delivered to me, course by course. Here's what the creative chefs came up with.
Oasis: Ratatouille of currants, tomatoes and olives with zucchini slices and fresh mozzarella cheese
Tin Angel: Cup of lobster mushroom soup with currants and pistachio-crusted goat cheese
zY: Seared New York strip with coffee-currant sauce and oyster mushrooms
zY: Butter peach with plums and currants
Oasis: Drake's yogurt with peaches and currants
Tin Angel: Coffee granita with currant sabayon
Was everyone having fun? Well, lovely emcee Danica Farley wore her frilly apron as she narrated the chefs' progress, and Jerry Liedtke commandeered his kids' Snoopy Sno-cone maker to make his granita. I'd say yes.
Winner of best chef—highest overall score—was Chef Jerry Liedtke.
Winner of most creative dish was Chef Matthew Lake, who had the nerve to serve an exquisitely simple half a butter-warmed peach with nothing but currants and fresh plums.
It was perfect, and showcased the real star of the morning, the gorgeous food available at the Market.
Don't forget—you can now shop the Market on Tuesday nights, too. And Dine O'Round is off and running. Let me know where you dine well.