I am fully guilty of having one of my web browsing tabs open to Twitter during the work day. It helps the day go by! A couple of weeks ago, I was quick enough to reserve two spots for the local Quickfire event held at Perennial Virant each month. Similar to the Bravo series, Top Chef, two local chefs are given an hour to prepare 100 small bites for the judges (audience) to taste. This month's competition was between last month's winner, Chef Chris Pandel from the Bristol, and Chef Stephanie Izard from Girl and the Goat, and also Top Chef Season 4 winner.
It was a warm summer evening on the patio, which is across from the park where the semi-weekly Green City Market is held. When we checked in for the event, we were given two drink tickets for Goose Island Beer or a summer cocktail punch, a ticket to sample each chef's dish, and finally our voting ballot. We were able to secure a spot pretty close up to Chef Izard and her sous chef. We arrived a few minutes late so we didn't hear all the parameters of the challenge, but the key ingredient was flank steak provided by Dietzler Farms. Being near the ladies' end of the prep area, I spied a watermelon, two boxes of rice krispies, and two jars of pickled summer beans. I sympathized for the sous chef for spending the entire prep time on cutting the steaks for tartare - that can definitely cause tennis elbow over time!
So onto the food! Chef Izard prepared an Ethopian tartare garnished with a piri piri sauce made with garlic and watermelon rind. It was topped with spiced rice krispies and nori flakes. It was a beautifully plated dish and interesting flavor combination. Chef Pandel prepared a Rhode Island flatbread using Hungry Jack biscuits for the crust! It was topped with a goat liver puree, eggplant, peppers and grilled flank steak. We had to give the slight edge to Chef Pandel as the flavors really went well together, but our opinion was contrary to the rest of the judges since Chef Izard was crowned the winner. All in all, it was a fun night to see these local "celebrity" chefs in action up close and under pressure. We also had the pleasure of sampling bites of their food that probably no one else will.