Tag Archives: preliminaries

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

2013 Diamond Chef Preliminaries Today at Peabody Hotel

27 Feb
Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competes in round three of today's Diamond Chef preliminaries.

Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competes in round three of today’s Diamond Chef preliminaries.

UPDATE: Executive Chef Dan Capello and Sous Chef Jordan Davis of Chenal Country Club won the preliminaries and will compete against Jason Knapp at the June 4 final event.

If you have a few minutes (or hours) to spare this afternoon, drop by the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Little Rock and watch a round or two of Diamond Chef preliminaries, pitting the state’s best chefs against each other to choose who will compete against last year’s winner, Jason Knapp of Aramark/UCA, in a special plated dinner event this summer.

The competition follows the format of the popular television show “Chopped.” Chefs are presented a mystery basket of ingredients and have 40 minutes, with the help of one sous chef, to prepare a dish using all the ingredients. Judges will score the dishes, and the top two chefs will advance to the Arkansas Diamond Chef finale on June 4 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

For the first time in a few years, we won’t be able to be there for a live play-by-play. Luckily, the great PR folks at Pulaski Tech are on top of it for you, so catch the action as it unfolds on their Facebook page, or follow their snazzy new Twitter handle at @Diamond_Chef.

12 p.m. -Matt Cooper vs. Jeffrey Farrell, Emcee Bob Steel
1 p.m. – Philippe Ducrot vs. Nathan Miller, Emcee Tom Brannon
2 p.m.- Gilbert Alaquinez vs. Dan Capello, Emcee Greg Dee
3 p.m. -Payne Harding vs. Alexis Jones, Emcee Kevin Clay
4 p.m. – Chefs TBD, Emcee Tom Wood
5 p.m. – Chefs TBD, Emcee Pamela Smith
6 p.m. – Chefs TBD, Emcee Pamela Smith