Archive | PTC_ACS RSS feed for this section

Diamond Chef Prelim 2015 Live Results

31 Mar
Chef Justin Patterson (right) and sous chef Daniel Rogers plating during the competition. The team won the preliminaries and will compete against Marc Guizol in the final on June 2.

Chef Justin Patterson (right) and sous chef Daniel Rogers plating during the competition. The team won the preliminaries and will compete against Marc Guizol in the final on June 2.

Heat 1: Billy Ginocchio of Pulaski Tech vs. Payne Harding of Cache
Basket: Creekstone Farms ribeye, whole redfish, Cervasi peppered, McCormick Mediterranean sea salt, blood orange, rum, chocolate caramel Chex mix

Winner: Harding

Heat 2: Justin Patterson of Southern Gourmasian vs. Angela Nardi of Superior Bath House
Basket: Creekstone Farms brisket, whole Bronzini, Cervasi balsamic glaze, McCormick rubbed sage, heirloom cherry tomato, Boulevard Pale Ale, Butterscotch oatmeal bar

Winner: Patterson

Heat 3: Elliot Jones of YaYa’s vs. Jason Knapp of The Green Leaf Grill
Basket: Creekstone Farms beef tenderloin, grouper sides, Cervasi Spicy procuitto spread, McCormick smoked paprika, dragon fruit, sherry, chocolate chip oatmeal bar

Winner: Jones

Heat 4: Harding vs. Jones
Basket: Creekstone Farms Flank Steak, whole flounder, Cervasi tapenade, McCormick whole caraway seeds, passionfruit, marsala, Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Peanut Bar

Winner: Jones

Heat 5: Patterson vs. Jones
Basket: Creekstone Farms bone-in short loin, cobia sides, Cervasi aged cheddar, McCormick cream of tartar, kumquat, peppermint Schnapps, Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Almond Bar

FINAL WINNER: Justin Patterson of Southern Gourmasian. He will compete against Marc Guizol of Capital Bar & Grill in the June 2 final at Statehouse Convention Center. Patterson won against Jones by just half a point (162 to 162.5).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Diamond Chef growing right along with Arkansas’ food scene

23 Mar

The kind folks at the Arkansas Times (hat tip to fellow foodie and new full-time food editor Michael Roberts) allowed me to do a writeup in the venerable Eat Arkansas blog today, talking a bit about Pulaski Technical College’s Diamond Chef competition.

Diamond Chef is important to our local food scene for lots of reasons, including some you may not know. ::Cough community college funding cough:: I hope you’ll read all about it.

Check it out!

Competitors Announced for 2015 Diamond Chef Arkansas

28 Jan

Diamond ChefArkansas’ biggest culinary competition is gearing up for its 2015 season: Diamond Chef Arkansas.

This annual event is a fundraiser for the Pulaski Technical College Foundation and is tied closely with the college’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, which will host the preliminary competition on Tuesday, March 31, 2 – 8 p.m.

The preliminary event whittles down a large field of contenders in double-elimination style, with a full docket of the state’s best culinary talent (see below). That day’s winner will compete one-on-one against 2014 Diamond Chef winner Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel in the finale, held Tuesday, June 2 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Competitors in this year’s preliminaries include:

  • Billy Ginocchio, Faculty, PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
  • Payne Harding, Executive Chef, Cache
  • Elliot Jones, Executive Chef, YaYa’s Euro Bistro
  • Angela Nardi, Executive Chef, Superior Bath House Brewery & Distillery
  • Justin Patterson, Executive Chef, Southern Gourmasian
  • Jason Knapp, Executive Chef, The Green Leaf Grill

The preliminary event is casual, open to anyone, and free to attend, which I highly recommend if you have even the slightest love for fine food and friendly (albeit heated) competition. Just drop in anytime from 2 to 8 p.m. at the culinary school on March 31.

**************

Diamond Chef Arkansas Preliminary Competition
Pulaski Technical College – Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock
Tuesday, March 31, 2 – 8 p.m.
FREE admission, drop in anytime
(501) 812-2860

Root Café’s Award-Winning Coconut Curry Collard Greens

29 Oct
Root Cafe's Coconut Curry Collard Greens

Our sampling of the glorious greens from last week’s Food Day event. (I went in for more later.)

And can I get an amen?

This holy manna makes an appearance just about every day (although sometimes in different forms, depending on what greens are available) at The Root Café in Little Rock. Even if you don’t think you like greens, you’ll probably dig these.

People dug them pretty hard at the 2012 Arkansas Cornbread Festival, where this recipe won “Best Side Dish.” And to our knowledge, the recipe hasn’t been published anywhere…until now.

Root Café owner and chef Jack Sundell prepares the restaurant's Coconut Curry Collard Greens with Dr. Meenakshi Budrahaja.

Root Café owner and chef Jack Sundell prepares the restaurant’s Coconut Curry Collard Greens with Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja.

Root Café owner and chef Jack Sundell served as a panelist on last week’s Food Day event at Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, giving insight on how restaurateurs can commit to using local ingredients. (Hint: It takes a lot of planning and networking.) After the panel, Sundell made this recipe for the audience, which included culinary students, middle schoolers from Conway, and members of the local food community.

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

*********************************************

The Root Café’s Coconut Curry Collard Greens
Serves 4-6

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. best quality curry powder
  • 2 pounds collard greens or kale, washed and stemmed (should give you about 1 1/2 pounds ready to use)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. salt and more to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Sweat onions with salt until softening, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook one minute, then add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Add half the greens, lower the heat a little bit, and stir occasionally until the greens have mostly wilted.  Add rest of greens, coconut milk, stock, and 1 tsp. salt, cover pot, and reduce heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 25 – 30 minutes.  Avoid over stirring.

Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until most liquid has evaporated and broth has thickened, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully as not to scorch the greens.  Remove pot from heat, stir in one tablespoon each olive oil and lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pulaski Tech hosts Food Day to discuss community, health and economy

22 Oct

Food DayPulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute will host a Food Day panel discussion and food demonstrations with chefs, farmers and doctors on Oct. 23 to discuss how food choices affect the community, environment, economy, and public health.

The discussion begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, in the Celebrity Chef Theatre at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute, 13000 Interstate 30.

The panelists are Jack Sundell, chef/owner of The Root Café; Jody Hardin, a farmer for St. Joseph Farm and Farm and Food Innovation Center; Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja, gastroenterologist and nutrition educator; and Chef Suzanne Campbell, a culinary instructor at Pulaski Technical College.

The discussion will focus on food safety, health, seasonal cooking, and food preservation. Questions will be accepted from the audience, and the panelists will provide a cooking demonstration using locally grown products.

The event is being held in conjunction with Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. The event is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, contact Kendal Haycook (501) 812-2860 or email khaycook@pulaskitech.edu

Capital Hotel’s Guizol wins Diamond Chef 2014 (Updated)

3 Jun
Diamond Chef 2014 winner Marc Guizol (center) with sous Patrick Kelly and Adrienne Rogers.

Diamond Chef 2014 winner Marc Guizol (center) with sous Zachary Pullam and Adrienne Rogers.

Chef Marc Guizol, sous chef at the Capital Hotel, has won the 2014 Diamond Chef final competition. His competitor was Chef Dan Capello of the Chenal Country Club.

This year’s secret ingredient was lobster, and Guizol and Capello did not disappoint with their variations on the theme. However, before the ingredient was revealed, an even bigger twist: Each chef had to trade one sous chef to the opposing team. Chenal’s Patrick Kelly ended up working with Guizol, and Capital Hotel’s Zachary Pullam switched over to Capello.

Each team was given 20 minutes to prepare each course, which was then presented to the team of judges.

1st Course CollageFirst Course

Chef Capello’s team presented a lobster spring roll with a lemon sour cream sauce. Guizol’s team presented lobster tartare with a peanut butter sauce.

2nd Course Collage

Second Course

Capello presented an in-shell lobster tail with a slaw of microgreens and guacamole, and a fried zucchini flower stuffed with goat cheese. Guizol offered a coconut-milk based soup with a lobster tail and lobster mousseline, garnished with lobster roe, and a roe-garnished crisp. (Many thanks to Lennon Parker of Pulaski Tech for sharing his photos of this course.)

3rd Course CollageThird Course

Capello presented a crab claw and knuckle ragu with mushroom, tomato and bacon; a corn and lobster flan; and a celeriac, French truffle and quail egg yolk ravioli with a celeriac truffle crumble, garnished with thyme, celery and borage flowers.

Guizol presented a smoked lobster claw with roe presented caviar style, a fresh winter Australian truffle ravioli with foie gras, and porcini mushroom garnish.

Finale Diamond Chef Arkansas Score SlideScoring

Guizol won with a final total score of 83.8 out of a possible 100 points, compared to Capello’s 78.67 points.

I got to overhear some of the judges’ conversations while taking photos and getting plate descriptions, and the competition was tight. It seemed to come down to a few minor technical errors on Capello’s part and more well-executed dishes on Guizol’s side.

I don’t envy the chefs or their sous at all. This is an extremely high-pressure event, and I certainly would not want to pick apart each dish like the judges must. They are presented with near-perfect dishes from Arkansas’ best chefs, and they are forced to find what little things may have been wrong.

Once again, Diamond Chef has shown us just what amazing culinary talent we have right here in Arkansas, all benefiting Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute so they can keep adding more talent to our market.

PHOTOS: See below for candid shots and more from the event. Please do not republish without permission.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Diamond Chef 2014 Pits Capello, Guizol this Tuesday

1 Jun

Disclaimer: Although I’ve attended for free for years as a student or volunteer, this year marks the first time I’ll be sitting at a “big kid” table at Diamond Chef. Organizers offered me a ticket in exchange for my normal coverage, so I’m telling you and the FTC powers that be. Sorry for two “sponsored” things in a row, technically.

dc_web_logo

It’s time once again for that iconic culinary throwdown, the Diamond Chef competition final, this year pitting Executive Chef Daniel Capello of Chenal Country Club against Executive Sous Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel. The ticketed event will be held this Tuesday, June 3, 6 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center. Tickets are still available, $200 each or $2,000 for a table of 10.

Diamond Chef is a fundraising event for the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, specifically for the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, or CAHMI (Read: “Cammie”) for short. If you know me at all, you know I’ve got quite the soft spot for CAHMI, being a graduate and now sitting on the advisory board. Every dollar raised at Diamond Chef helps students have the equipment and opportunities they need to be the well-trained workforce that Arkansas deserves.

I’ve had the privilege of covering the Diamond Chef event for several years now (excepting last year, when I was at Disney World — my bad), since my days as a culinary arts student at Pulaski Tech. Since then, the event has become even bigger, better and more fun!

Students and faculty line both sides of the doors while welcoming Diamond Chef guests.

Students and faculty line both sides of the doors while welcoming Diamond Chef guests.

The event starts with a cocktail hour in the lobby, giving attendees a chance to mingle and start bidding on the well-stocked silent auction. Later, attendees are ushered into the ballroom, flanked on both sides by CAHMI students and faculty in their white chef coats. The guests are then seated at round tables for 10 while dining on a multi-course meal. (And because I know you’re wondering, none of these meals are made by the frantically-competing chefs, just by the amazingly talented culinary staff at Statehouse.)

While you watch, the two finalists, each with two sous chefs, are presented with the one secret ingredient that must be used in every dish presented that night, and they have but 60 minutes in which to do it. At least three courses are required, but being the overachievers that they are, we often see more. A panel of expert judges will score the chefs on creativity, taste and presentation, while Chef Andre Poirot of Crowne Plaza Little Rock will serve as a technical judge, scoring the chefs on sanitation and organization. Note: I’ve seen chefs lose by a fraction of a point for sanitation. It matters!

The seated part of the event also includes a live auction, filled with fantasy prizes and trips for foodies. (I swear, one day I’ll bid on a trip to eat at the renowned French Laundry, if that auction item appears again.)

I hear you…”Wasn’t there a Diamond Chef just a few weeks ago?” Well, yes, gentle reader; I’m glad you remember. That was the preliminaries, an exciting, multi-round free event that chooses this year’s challenger to the previous year’s Diamond Chef champion. See, here’s a selfie I took with Chef Guizol just after his big win!

We were having a silly moment. He was pretty happy. He also said his out-of-town friends saw everything on Fancy Pants Foodie!

We were having a silly moment. He was pretty happy. He also said his out-of-town friends saw everything on Fancy Pants Foodie!

At this preliminary event and at other food events around town, I’ve been amazed at Chef Guizol’s skill. It’s a testament to the stacked deck of awesome over at the Capital Hotel that someone of his stature is second in command (to Executive Chef Joel Antunes) and is flanked by tournant (or roundsman, basically a chef who can do anything at any station) Arturo Solis, whose performance at last year’s AHA Culinary Classic was as astounding as any head chef in town.

Guizol came away as the winner of last year’s Arkansas Hospitality Association Iron Chef competition, so he’ll be a formidable competitor at this year’s Diamond Chef.

Meanwhile, Chef Daniel Capello is a Diamond Chef legend. He won the title last year as well as in 2010, and has long been active in culinary competitions and other events such as Wildwood’s Wine and Food Festival, CAHMI’s Chef Ball, and the March of Dimes Signature Chef event.

The main thing that stands out to me about Capello is his generosity to the local food community. If you are a culinary student or up-and-coming chef in Arkansas, chances are you’ve had the chance to visit with him and glean from his experience. His attendance at all the aforementioned events show that he’s not too busy or too good to share the culinary wealth.

I hope you’l join me this Tuesday at the Diamond Chef final event. It’s a great event for a great cause. Our students at CAHMI very much appreciate your support of their education!

***************

Diamond Chef Final
benefiting Pulaski Technical College
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
Statehouse Convention Center
6-10 p.m. (Cocktails from 6-7)
$200 each / $2000 for a table of 10

Announcing ARFoodJobs.com!

1 Apr
Free job listings for employers throughout April with code APRILFOOLFREE. No joke!

Free job listings for employers throughout April with code APRILFOOLFREE. No joke!

It’s not a joke…I finally did it. Today marks the official launch of my new food job site, ARFoodJobs.com. And this month, employers can use it for free.

Since entering the culinary world as a student in 2009, I noticed there was no reliable system for filling our state’s food-related positions. Job openings were filled by word of mouth (which isn’t always a bad thing, but with limited reach), newspaper listings, Craigslist (gah) and a flurry of emails between those in the industry.

And then, around 2012 or so, our food world smooth blew up, especially in Little Rock. New restaurants, improved concepts and inspired chefs popped up everywhere. (A recent visitor who works in the industry marveled to me at our density and variety of dining.) By 2014, Little Rock was named one of five “Secret Foodie Cities” by Forbes Travel Guide.

So, who’s gonna work at all these places? And how will the busy owners, managers and chefs make connections to the best workers?

Today I offer a solution: ARFoodJobs.com.

It’s more than a job board…I like to say we’re matchmakers for Arkansas’ growing culinary and hospitality industry and the state’s most qualified job candidates in these areas.

Our matchmaking is made possible through strategic affiliate partnerships with Pulaski Technical College — Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute and the Arkansas Hospitality Association. With their help, we are gathering the resumes of the state’s best food job candidates, from students to seasoned (ha) veterans, and helping them connect with employers.

May I ask for your help in getting us started? It’s a big week. Help a sistah out.

1. Employers: Register as an employer on the site (click “register” and follow prompts). If you have a job opening right now, you can start at the “Post a Job” menu button and it will register you automatically in the process. Use coupon code APRILFOOLFREE to get free job listings all month in April.

2. Job Seekers: Select “Post a Resume” under “Find a Job” on the site and you’ll be registered as a job seeker in the process. Then fill in our resume form as well as attach your PDF or Word formatted resume. Please do both, as the form is searchable by employers, and they also like one to print out. If you’d rather be stealthy about your job search, you can just click “Register” and sign up as a candidate.

3. Everyone Else: If you’re not in the industry or not currently looking, please share this site with others. The more jobs and resumes we have listed, the better it will work for everyone.

Thank you in advance for your support. It means so much. What a great food culture we have right here in Arkansas!

2014 Diamond Chef Prelims Play by Play

6 Mar
Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech (right) looks on as his sous works on a basket ingredient.

Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech (right) looks on as his sous works on a basket ingredient.

Check here for live updates on today’s 2014 Diamond Chef preliminary competition. Today’s results will choose the competitor who will cook against Chef Dan Capello in the Diamond Chef final event on June 3.

You can drop in anytime today between 2 – 8 p.m. to watch the action yourself. Free appetizers and beverages will be available for the final rounds, 5 – 8 p.m.

Heat 1:
Chef Philippe Ducrot of PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute vs. Chef Coby Smith of Arkansas Heart Hospital.

Basket ingredients:
Eye of round, buttermilk, meyer lemons, parsnips, toasted sesame water crackers, tequila, salted caramel Cracker Jacks, sassafras.

Winner: Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech.

Heat 2:
Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel vs. Chef Elliot Jones of YaYa’s.

Basket ingredients:
Chuck roll, ice cream mix, guava, fava beans, Funyuns, marinated peppers, peppermint Schnapps, lemon verbena powder.

Winner: Chef Marc Guizol of Capital Hotel.

Heat 3:
Chef Jason Morell of Starving Artist vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.
Winner will move on to compete against Chef Guizol.

Basket ingredients:
Beef bottom round, cottage cheese, seckel pears, porcini mushrooms, cheddar and jalapeño chips, hearts of palm, Szechuan peppercorns, Gentleman Jack.

Winner: Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

Semifinal:
Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

Basket ingredients:
Tri-tip, sour cream, dragon fruit, Belgian endive, mango chutney, cheddar munchies, Gold Bacardi rum, hibiscus powder

Winner: Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech.

FINAL:
Chef Philippe Ducrot vs. Chef Marc Guizol.

Basket ingredients:
Strip loin, plain lowfat yogurt, passionfruit, sunchoke, saffron, instant oatmeal, vodka, cocoa nibs.

Winning dish by Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

Winning dish by Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

PRELIMINARY COMPETITION WINNER:
Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

Chef Guizol will compete against last year’s winner, Chef Dan Capello, in the ticketed final event at the Statehouse Convention Center on June 3.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ProStart Culinary/Hospitality Winners Announced; Diamond Chef Prelims Tomorrow

5 Mar
A student from North Pulaski High School's Simply Delicious restaurant competing last week. North Pulaski's team won the culinary competition.

A student from North Pulaski High School’s Simply Delicious restaurant competing last week. North Pulaski’s team won the culinary competition.

If the weather outside hasn’t caught on that it’s almost spring, the event calendar is getting the hint. This time of year brings back some of our favorite food-themed competitions and events.

Last week, the annual ProStart Student Invitational brought the state’s top high school culinary and hospitality programs to Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute for a couple days of intense competition. (What, you didn’t know ProStart was a thing? It’s like home ec on steroids, doing a lot of the stuff we did in culinary school.)

Thursday, six culinary teams were set up in the institute’s open atrium, each at a professional workstation. Each team presented a multi-course menu to a team of judges, and I got to watch some of the cooking action. These guys and gals had it going on.

In the end, North Pulaski High School’s Simply Delicious restaurant team won the culinary competition. On Friday, Northwest Arkansas Community College Early College Experience won the hospitality management competition. Both teams will advance to the national ProStart competition.

Tomorrow, the Diamond Chef preliminary competition takes place from 2 – 8 p.m., also at Pulaski Tech CAHMI. This free event is to identify this year’s competitor against last year’s champion, Chef Dan Capello of Chenal Country Club, in the ticketed final event on June 3 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

The schedule has just been announced:

Heat 1, 2pm: Chef Ducrot of PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute vs. Chef Coby Smith of Arkansas Heart Hospital.

Heat 2, 3:00pm: Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel vs. Chef Elliot Jones of YaYa’s.

Heat 3 at 4p: Chef Jason Morell of Starving Artist vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

The final two rounds after that will determine this year’s competitor.

*****

Photos from last week’s ProStart competition:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.