Images from OC Fair Chef Challenge – “Water”
Chef Mike Doctulero from Scott’s Restaurant v.s. Chef Ben Wallenbeck from Ways & Means Oyster House
This is a photo blog of the competition from this past Friday (July 26th) at the OC Fair Chef Challenge. Two Orange County Chefs, Chef Wallenbeck from Ways and Means Oyster House was pitted against Chef Mike Doctulero from Scott’s Restaurant.
The judges were Priscilia Mayfield from Orange Coast Magazine, Anita Lau from Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman and Tom Holmberg from Tom’s Foodie Blog (me ).
Each contestant was give a basket of secret ingredients that live or are grown in water including: wild rice, seafood cocktail (bay shrimp, calamari and scallops), raw shrimp and radish. Their goal was to come up with a dish that will be judged on the following categories
- a) Appearance
- b) Taste
- c) Originality /Use of Ingredients
Chef Wallenbeck made a lightly poached shrimp presented two ways (sliced) and whole, over shoshito and scallop wild rice and pickled onion.
Chef Doctulero made a poached shrimp over spicy peppers and rice. On the side he also made a tangy and spicy ceviche.
The Winner and Judgement
The Winner of the event was Chef Doctulero who won because of his superior plating and use of all the secret ingredients.
The taste was a toss up for me.
I liked Chef Wallenbeck‘s, from Way’s and Means, use of shoshito peppers and scallop in his rice. I also like the subtle flavors in the shrimp. I felt his dish was balanced in flavor and layering, but lacked some overall umphhh.
Chef Doctulero, from Scott’s, nailed his dish as a result of his complex flavor layering of sweet, spicy and umami. Although I loved his dish, Chef Doctulero’s added too much heat and too many spicy ingredients. As a result, the spice / heat became the main actors in the dish.
The secret ingredients (seafood, rice) became supporting actors. My fellow judges also picked Chef Doctulero’s dish as the winner, although disagreed with me about the unbalanced nature of the flavors.
If you missed this challenge, they will be occurring for the next two weeks. The next OC Fair Chef Challenge (August 1st) will feature Chef Greg Daniels from Haven Gastropub and Chef Ramirez from Pinot Provence.