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HomeNewsArchivesOn Your Mark, Get Set, Sauté! Cultural Fair Features Chef Competition

On Your Mark, Get Set, Sauté! Cultural Fair Features Chef Competition

April 30, 2009 — Promoting the not-too-far-off ideal of a self-sustaining Virgin Islands, Banco Popular helped celebrate island agriculture Wednesday with the first ever "Virgin Fresh" ultimate chef competition at the Cultural Fair in Emancipation Gardens.
Seven top-notch chefs from St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island, the British Virgin Islands and St. Croix competed in a late-afternoon cook-off using island-grown foods, a local version of the popular Food Network contests on cable television.
It was standing room only at the signature event of the day-long food fair featuring the best traditional island food, drinks and crafts.
"This is exciting," said Aquannette Chinnery-Montell, who squeezed in for a look at the judges as they got their first hot plate of gourmet food from the competing chefs. "I watch 'Top Chef' and 'Iron Chef' and all of them. … It's exciting to see it happen here."
Four judges had the dreadful job of sampling each gourmet plate and deciding on a winner, washing bites of fish and chicken, local greens and island fruit down with swigs of Heineken and S. Pellegrino water as the contestants finished their dishes.
Each of the seven teams was given a choice of beautifully colorful island spices and veggies from their shared table. Each selected between red snapper and chicken as a meat, and then the judges sprang two surprise ingredients on each team at the last minute.
Within minutes of their hurried selections, Chef Mathayom Vacharat and sous chef Tim Dotson of St. John were busy chopping up a funky salsa of onions and peppers and locally grown papaya — one of their surprise ingredients.
The two hard-working culinary artists ended up with the grand prize, extemporaneously working up a delicious pan-roasted chicken breast covered in a local honey and fennel glaze, a cucumber-papaya slaw, yucca potato cake with mashed plantain with a desert of papaya canole with a papaya-lemon grass sauce.
All kinds of greens and colorful fruits and vegetables were ground, chopped, pureed, sliced, sautéed, boiled, reduced, fried and served up to four gluttonous judges who wore fat smiles till the last dished was served and beyond.
His mouth full, judge Antolin Velasco Velez merely nodded and smiled at judge Larry Nibbs when chef Heidi Erwig and sous chef Wendy LaFranchise's red snapper dish made its way to them and quickly disappeared between cheek and jowl.
The judges had it good.
Spectators enjoyed the event, too. They crowded six or seven deep to see the action, some balancing astride the gut at the edge of Superemax Convenience Store to get in close and see the fun.
The chefs seemed to have enjoyed the event as much as the hundreds who came to watch. Spectators got eye-popping glimpses and palette-teasing whiffs of the five-star food, and the cooks got 15 minutes of fame instead of their normal hours behind the lines.
Banco Poular teamed up with the UVI Department of Agriculture, UVI Extension and Green Thumb Farms to supply the chefs.
In addition to the winning duo from Mathayom, the chefs also included Brian Wisebaur of Zebo's Wine Bar & Restaurant on St. Croix; David Benjamin from the Bluewater Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas; Davide Pugliese of Brandywine restaurant, Tortola; Dennis Vanterpool of Marriott Frenchman's Reef; Heidi Erwig of Heidi's Honeymoon Grill on Water Island; and Jennifer Litwin of Oceana on St. Thomas.
The winning team from Mathayom Private Chefs received a check for $1,000 and a Versace plate that will be inscribed with their names.
When asked if he would get a cut of the $1,000 grand prize, Mathayom sous chef Todd Dotson just smiled and said, "Absolutely!"
"Half, man!" he said.
Carnival continues Thursday with J'ouvert at sunrise till sometime around noon.
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April 30, 2009 -- Promoting the not-too-far-off ideal of a self-sustaining Virgin Islands, Banco Popular helped celebrate island agriculture Wednesday with the first ever "Virgin Fresh" ultimate chef competition at the Cultural Fair in Emancipation Gardens.
Seven top-notch chefs from St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island, the British Virgin Islands and St. Croix competed in a late-afternoon cook-off using island-grown foods, a local version of the popular Food Network contests on cable television.
It was standing room only at the signature event of the day-long food fair featuring the best traditional island food, drinks and crafts.
"This is exciting," said Aquannette Chinnery-Montell, who squeezed in for a look at the judges as they got their first hot plate of gourmet food from the competing chefs. "I watch 'Top Chef' and 'Iron Chef' and all of them. ... It's exciting to see it happen here."
Four judges had the dreadful job of sampling each gourmet plate and deciding on a winner, washing bites of fish and chicken, local greens and island fruit down with swigs of Heineken and S. Pellegrino water as the contestants finished their dishes.
Each of the seven teams was given a choice of beautifully colorful island spices and veggies from their shared table. Each selected between red snapper and chicken as a meat, and then the judges sprang two surprise ingredients on each team at the last minute.
Within minutes of their hurried selections, Chef Mathayom Vacharat and sous chef Tim Dotson of St. John were busy chopping up a funky salsa of onions and peppers and locally grown papaya -- one of their surprise ingredients.
The two hard-working culinary artists ended up with the grand prize, extemporaneously working up a delicious pan-roasted chicken breast covered in a local honey and fennel glaze, a cucumber-papaya slaw, yucca potato cake with mashed plantain with a desert of papaya canole with a papaya-lemon grass sauce.
All kinds of greens and colorful fruits and vegetables were ground, chopped, pureed, sliced, sautéed, boiled, reduced, fried and served up to four gluttonous judges who wore fat smiles till the last dished was served and beyond.
His mouth full, judge Antolin Velasco Velez merely nodded and smiled at judge Larry Nibbs when chef Heidi Erwig and sous chef Wendy LaFranchise's red snapper dish made its way to them and quickly disappeared between cheek and jowl.
The judges had it good.
Spectators enjoyed the event, too. They crowded six or seven deep to see the action, some balancing astride the gut at the edge of Superemax Convenience Store to get in close and see the fun.
The chefs seemed to have enjoyed the event as much as the hundreds who came to watch. Spectators got eye-popping glimpses and palette-teasing whiffs of the five-star food, and the cooks got 15 minutes of fame instead of their normal hours behind the lines.
Banco Poular teamed up with the UVI Department of Agriculture, UVI Extension and Green Thumb Farms to supply the chefs.
In addition to the winning duo from Mathayom, the chefs also included Brian Wisebaur of Zebo's Wine Bar & Restaurant on St. Croix; David Benjamin from the Bluewater Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas; Davide Pugliese of Brandywine restaurant, Tortola; Dennis Vanterpool of Marriott Frenchman's Reef; Heidi Erwig of Heidi's Honeymoon Grill on Water Island; and Jennifer Litwin of Oceana on St. Thomas.
The winning team from Mathayom Private Chefs received a check for $1,000 and a Versace plate that will be inscribed with their names.
When asked if he would get a cut of the $1,000 grand prize, Mathayom sous chef Todd Dotson just smiled and said, "Absolutely!"
"Half, man!" he said.
Carnival continues Thursday with J'ouvert at sunrise till sometime around noon.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.