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Chefs Versus Chiefs: Chefs Take on Firefighters, Win Two Rounds in Food Challenge

The event benefits the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Arlington firefighters and local chefs battled it out over hot stoves Wednesday for an event dubbed “Chefs Versus Chiefs.”  

The cook off challenged each team to create the best appetizer, salad, or entrée of the evening.

“Firemen are notorious for cooking up a storm,” said Chef David Guas, owner of Bayou Bakery in the Courthouse area, who competed representing the chefs. “They have to put out a lot of meals and they are smart cooks.”

The fundraiser, hosted in Rosslyn, benefitted the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), a nonprofit that assists area residents. This is the first year the center is putting on the event, which drew at least 200 to the ballroom at the Marriott Key Bridge.

“It’s fantastic,” said Thomas Klanderman, who is on the board for AFAC. “It’s a unique event, and it’s a great start to what we hope will be a tradition.”

The evening was structured into three rounds, where teams representing each side created either an appetizer, soup or salad, or entrée. Dishes were judged by three representatives from local restaurants the Lebanese Taverna, the Curious Grape, and A-Town Bar and Grill.

The winners of each round were given Golden Eggplants, trophies in the shape of eggplants. In the addition to the challenge of cooking in front of a room of crowded people, the cooks also were limited to ingredients found in the AFAC pantry.

In the end, the pros took home two eggplants in the appetizer and entrée rounds.

“This is going to look good in the restaurant,” said Guas as he clutched his trophy. He created an entrée he called a Mexican-style “Napoleon” layered dish using a tortilla made from white bread.

The other winner was Chef Adam Barnett, assisted by Ryan Mills of the Eventide restaurant, who whipped up a sweet corn flan as part of his dish.

The firefighter team that called themselves “The Green Machine,” beat out their chef counterpart from the Carlyle restaurant with a salad with a side featuring caramelized onions and sweet potatoes.

“It feels great,” said Captain Claude Conde, who worked alongside Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Liebold.

While the winners enjoyed bragging rights, those in the audience experienced what they described as a different kind of fundraiser, less stodgy and more active then black-tie affairs.

“They have a good angle,” said Arlington County Board Member Walter Tejada, who attended the event and volunteers at AFAC. “It’s a great way to get firefighters out in large numbers for a really cool event.”

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