A Cook-Off for Social Good
This past weekend, Calvary Women's Services hosted a fundraiser for their Good Hope Kitchen, which provides 100 meals a day for women looking to improve their lives through good health, employment, and independent living. It's a wonderful cause, and Calvary does important work in Washington, DC, supporting about 150 women each year transition from homelessness to self-sufficient living. Since last year, Calvary supporter Kymber Messersmith has hosted an annual Iron Chef-style cook-off at her home between area chefs to raise funds for this local nonprofit.
At this year's Iron Chef, Mike Friedman, co-owner and executive chef at The Red Hen faced off with Justin Bates, chef de cuisine at Sugo. The two competitors engaged in a fierce culinary battle, using their skills to craft an original appetizer, entrée, and desert - all containing the secret ingredient. (Drum roll, please...Apple!) When asked if there was any trash talking between the teams, both chefs were extremely professional and said no. For the first course, both teams used foie gras. They used seafood for the second, and used vanilla for dessert. Onlookers saw apple cole slaw, apple fritters, and apple and bacon confit among other apple-y creations be presented to the judges.
Their beautifully plated and aromatic creations were evaluated by an esteemed panel of judges including Haidar Karoum, exec chef at Proof and Estadio; Karen Nicolas, exec chef at Equinox and winner of Food and Wine's "Best New Chef" of 2012; Kristin Connor, co-owner of WHISK Gourmet Food & Catering; and Nycci Nellis, author of the blog, The List Are You On It. The judges carefully sample each course, and their reactions can be seen here.
The energy was palpable throughout the evening. From the competition to the popular music pumping throughout Messersmith's patio, everyone was excited to be a foodie and learn more about the local restaurant scene. "This is such a unique event in the community, and I'm so grateful to the hosts and competitors," said Calvary Executive Director Kris Thompson. "It's wonderful to see the restaurant community come together to not only put on such a fun event, but to also support our programs and the women we serve."
And the cooking competition wasn't the only foodie event happening at the event. At one end, Michael James of Proof roasted a pig, carved the meat, and served BBQ sandwiches. The skin was crispy and addictive; I couldn't stop myself from going back for more. In another area, Adam Bernbach, bar manager at Estadio, was busy serving up a gin-based ginger beer and citrus cocktail, crafted specially to the evening. In addition, Cava Mezze and Sugar Magnolia provided appetizers and desserts.
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