Tag Archives: Diamond Chef

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).

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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.

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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

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.

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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!

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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

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.

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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:

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Diamond Chef Prelims Set for March 6 at PTC

19 Feb
Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competing in last year's Diamond Chef preliminaries.

Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competing in last year’s Diamond Chef preliminaries. Capello won last year’s final and will compete against this year’s preliminary winner. Photo courtesy of Pulaski Tech.

UPDATE 3/5/14: Specific competitor heat times announced here.

What better setting for this year’s Diamond Chef preliminaries than a shiny new culinary school, right?

The annual Diamond Chef competition is a fundraiser for the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, taking place in two phases. The preliminary competition, taking place at the school on Thursday, March 6, culls the field of several talented local chefs (see graphic below) down to one competitor, using an elimination-style setup. Each heat features a mystery basket of ingredients that both chefs in that round must use.

Then later in the spring, at a ticketed event at the Statehouse Convention Center, the finalist goes mano-a-mano (or woman-o, if one had entered) on-stage against the previous year’s winner, Chef Dan Capello of Chenal Country Club, while the audience enjoys a multi-course meal. In the final, a single secret ingredient is revealed that must be used in each of at least three courses.

This year marks the preliminary event’s move to the institute’s new building, which opened to students last fall. The preliminary had been held at the former Peabody Hotel in years past.

If you’ve never been to the preliminary competition, it’s a great time to jump in. As opposed to the final, this event is free, and this year it will include some complimentary hors d’oerves and beverages from 5 – 8 p.m. (Thanks, sponsors!) You can drop in anytime between 2 and 8 p.m. to watch the action.

Diamond Chef Arkansas Preliminary Competition
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock
Drop in 2 – 8 p.m. (hors d’oerves and beverages 5 – 8 p.m.)
FREE

Prelim eblast FINAL

Chef Jason Knapp Wins Diamond Chef 2012

7 Jun

Diamond Chef 2012 winner Jason Knapp with his son Taylor.

Chef Jason Knapp of Aramark/University of Central Arkansas walked away with the title of Diamond Chef at Tuesday night’s event, after demonstrating three courses of culinary prowess using the mystery (and slightly bizarre) protein of ostrich eggs.

Knapp defeated Chef Bonner Cameron of Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro with a total of 73.15 of a possible 100 points against Bonner’s 57.20.

The annual event was sold out, with over 700 in attendance, including a flurry of white-coated students and instructors from Pulaski Tech’s burgeoning Arkansas Culinary School. The event, which benefits the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, included silent and live auctions of mostly culinary related products, trips and private dinners.

The tables were decorated with faux cakes created by students of the culinary school — my own cake included, which was a final in my recently-completed Cakes and Cake Decorating class. We enjoyed a three-course steak meal, expertly prepared by the Peabody / Statehouse staff. The beef was announced as a new cut, called a “Vegas Strip.”

If you missed our live tweets from the event, it would be worth your while to peruse the #DiamondChef hashtag for photos, commentary and more.

Unfortunately, it is harder to get contest plate photos at this event because of the stage setup without just jumping up there like you own the place. Not to say I didn’t do that, say, about three or four times. But elbowing the judges seemed out of line, so I’ll share photos from the Pulaski Tech official photographer in the near future.

Here’s what I did manage to get without getting thrown out, so enjoy, and check back for updates.

Diamond Chef 2012: Knapp vs. Cameron

3 Jun

Update: Results and photos here.

It’s time again to celebrate all things culinarily wonderful in Arkansas, in glorious, knife-weilding battle at the annual Diamond Chef Arkansas competition, hosted by the Pulaski Technical College Foundation.

The event will be held this Tuesday, June 5 at 6 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

This year’s competitors are Chef Jason Knapp, executive chef at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway/Aramark (and a former PTC chef) and Chef Bonner Cameron from Ya-Ya’s Euro Bistro in Little Rock. Both were finalists in the competition’s preliminary rounds in March. (See our prelim play-by-play and photo roundup here.)

This final event is formatted a bit differently than the preliminaries. For this event, only one surprise ingredient is unveiled, and that ingredient must be included in three courses produced by the chefs and their sous chefs within 60 minutes. In the preliminary event, a basket of several ingredients was opened before each round, all of which had to be used for a single course.

The final is judged by a panel of Certified Master Chefs, which is in and of itself quite spectacular. The prestigious CMC designation is awarded by the American Culinary Federation after a grueling 8-day testing procedure. Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School will host the judges, CMC John Johnstone and CMC Peter Timmins, at PTC South Campus’ Crain Community Room from 10 a.m. until noon for a panel discussion of the CMC designation and the testing process. (See an upcoming post for more details.)

As I wrote last year, the Diamond Chef Arkansas final is a spectacular fine-dining event that you won’t want to miss. Except, I hear that it’s sold out. So, make a note for next year, huh?

Wish you could see the event? You can, right here. Follow along here at Fancy Pants Foodie, or on our Twitter feed at @ARFoodie, for a live play-by-play and photo updates.