Three Utah chef teams faced off on Friday night to see who could come up with the winning guacamole in a contest organized by Whole Foods Sugar House benefitting Whole Foods' Whole Planet Foundation. Viking Cooking School provided the space, Uinta Brewing provided the beer and a hot band played the music (a great rendition of the Temps' old classic, "I got my guar,") that fueled the mashing, chopping, roasting and squeezing.
Chef Adam Kreisel of Chaia Cucina mixed his gourds with Asian flavors–daikon. lime and cilantro–for an eastern spin.
Robert Angellili, chef at Avenues Bistro on Third, and his lovely assistant Amber Billingsley, infused their mash with sumac,pomegranate molasses, zaatar and other Middle Eastern spices for an exotic dip that was inspired (so claimed Robert) by the months he spent wandering the desert and eating goat with Bedouins. Baloney, but the result was one of the most unusual versions of guacamole ever. It would be perfect with lamb or goat tacos.
Blake Spalding and Jen Castle of Hell's Backbone Grill stuck to Jen's Albuquerque roots and the organic produce provided by their farm, blistering peppers over the Viking flames, chopping heirloom tomatoes and finishing with a crunchy layer of iceberg lettuce the most traditional guar of the night. And that seemed to hit the spot, because their blend won both the people's choice and the judge's awards.
Good times for a good cause and we can't wait until next year's competition, when perhaps my favorite version, a Texas border blend represented: lime juice, salt, pepper, a little onion, a little fresh jalapeño. Period.