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Images from OC Fair Chef Challenge  – Water

Images from OC Fair Chef Challenge – Water

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 :) ). 

See my other posts about the OC Fair. 2014 OC Fair Food Guide  2013 OC Fair Food Guide  2012 OC Fair Food Guide

Oc Fair Chef's Challenge Judges (from left) Priscilla Mayfield from Orange Coast Magazine, Tom Holmberg from Tom's Foodie Blog, Anita Lau from Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman and recent guest judge on Hell's Kitchen)

Oc Fair Chef’s Challenge Judges (from left) Priscilla Mayfield from Orange Coast Magazine, Tom Holmberg from Tom’s Foodie Blog, Anita Lau from Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman and recent guest judge on Hell’s Kitchen)

Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria

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.

OC Fair Chef's Challenge Water 10

(front) Chef Wallenbeck Prepares the shrimp (back) Chef Doctulero prepares the 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 Wallenbeck's Plate

Chef Wallenbeck’s Plate

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. 

Chef Doctulero's Plate

Chef Doctulero’s Plate

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. OC Fair 2014 Chef's Challenge

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

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