Cleveland culinary students valiantly took on San Francisco counterparts and competitors from as far away as Mexico City in this week’s Ultimate Culinary Clash at The Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel in The Bay City.
Following the regional competition at Table 45 inside the Intercontinental Hotel in Cleveland, the local team headed west to compete against culinary teams representing other Intercontinental properties.
Meet the competitors:
Luce, representing the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. This crew presented a menu of Tostones with Soffrito, and Aji Amarillo.
I served as a judge along with several San Francisco food authorities and a representative from Mexico City. Each station thoughtfully prepared their dishes for us, and the crowd, which was also asked to judge their plates (for taste, seasonality, presentation and creativity). In addition, the students were judged on their engagement with guests and their ability to present and sell their dishes.
The students weren’t the only ones on the spot. The executive chefs from the restaurants they represented were also challenged to put together passed appetizers incorporating sponsor product, Kikkoman.
In addition, they had to develop a burger for the Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project. Each of those sliders had to contain 25% mushrooms, in an effort to curb meat consumption and foster more sustainability.
Lots of eating and lots of judging. I was up for the task. The toughest category for me to judge was seasonality. I am not very familiar with what is in season in Mexico City or San Francisco. But I know good food when it hits my lips. Among my favorites, were Student Chef Campbell’s marinated sable fish and the Cafe Urbano team’s drunk salad made with salt cured cactus leaf and a tequila vinaigrette.
In the end, the team from Nob HIll was victorious, taking home bragging rights and the scholarship money. But the Cleveland team made food that had the room talking. This was surely excellent real world, working kitchen experience, alas well as excellent exposure for all involved. The culinary team from Table 45 showed the heavy hitters from the major culinary mecca that is San Francisco, just how great the food can be coming out of CLE.