Culinary Explicit Material

Please, pardon my crass title (it was formerly the far more crass “Food Porn”) but I could not compose a title that more aptly illustrated my weekend experience at an event  so wondrously gluttonous,  I insisted on photographing it all to share with all my readers:

Top Chefs is an annual event, hosted by Cityview Magazine,  that has 14 of the areas restaurants competing in a head-to-head battle royale for the title of Knoxville’s Best Chef.

Each chef/restaurant dishes out a sample size version of a signature entree and dessert. You sample the food, rank it on a scale of 1 to 5, and submit your ballet at the end of the night. The highest score wins the title of  Top Chef of Knoxville and a years worth of pretty legit bragging rights.  14 chefs – 28 plates to eat through.

I attended this event last year for the first time. Not knowing what I was in for, I ate the entire serving that was dished out rather than simply taking a taste and moving on. I couldn’t control myself! It was all so delicious and after only 4 restaurants, I was beyond full and couldn’t go on – a disappointing performance on my part.  This year, I came prepared to try every single plate of food. I ensured that I only had a bite of each so I could make it through each selection – and make it I did. No restaurant went unturned and I sampled and ranked my way though all 28 plates. (Have I mentioned lately, that my stomach is a bottomless pit?)

I’m going to go ahead and let the food do the talking from here on out…Yes I promise you, it was all as good as it looks.

Jeff Carter: Dancing Bear Lodge

Entree: Marinated lamb loin, celeriac puree, baby watercress, preserved lemons, and sunchoke chip. Dessert: Dark chocolate pot de creme with sweetened ricotta, pistachios, and lace cookie.

Gerry Gardner: Latitude 35

Entree: Stuffed beef tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, mushroom confit with Bordeaux sauce. Dessert: Rocky road bread pudding with homemade caramel and chocolate sauces.

Ed Bates: Puleo’s Grille

Entree: Cilantro-lime marinated grilled free-range chicken over angel-hair pasta in a lemon-wine reduction. Dessert: Chocolate mousse cake with Oreo crush, Frangelico liquor topping and crushed Heath bar crumbles.

Kirk Emery: Sequoyah Grille

Entree: Roasted eggplant ravioli with medallions of Florida lobster in a tomato basil butter sauce. Dessert: Strawberry and rhubarb shortcake with a lemon verbena sauce.

Jeffrey DeAlejandro: The Crown & Goose

Entree: Confit Australian lamb chop with olive oil-braised local greens and whole grain mustard demi-glace. (Not pictured) Dessert: Guinness stout chocolate cake, Baily's meringue cookie, and Irish peanut brittle.

Cameron Kight: Cru Bistro & Wine Bar

Entree: Braised pork cheek over deconstructed green chili. Dessert: Amaretto-macerated berries with mint creme anglais.

Jeek Kim: Nama Sushi Bar

Entree: Vegetable pasta (sweet potato, radish, carrot) with tuna sashimi and water tower with Fuji apple slush. Dessert: Green tea ice cream, corn flake, chocolate chip, berry mix with plum wine, and red bean paste.

Deron Little: Seasons Cafe

Entree: Seared pistachio-encrusted diver scallop on orzo with sauteed spinach and maltaise sauce. Dessert: Chocolate truffle served with hazelnut custard and fresh raspberry.

Amber Lloyd: The Orangery

Entree: Mango crab stack with avocado, tomato, and smoked honey ginger vinaigrette. Dessert: Raspberry tiramisu with fresh raspberries and a butter cookie.

Mario Navarro: Meksiko Cantina

Entree: Shrimp stuffed with smoked marlin and cream cheese rolled with bacon over buttery poblano rice. Dessert: Fried tortilla stuffed with plantains and cinnamon covered with a Tequila Anejo caramel sauce and nuts.

Josh Shupe: Downtown Hilton

Entree: Pork tenderloin with marscapone grit cake, honey gastrique, and spicy apple slaw. Dessert: Chocolate banana cake with peanut butter mousse and bacon brittle. Yup. Bacon Brittle.

Alex Shanks: Icon Ultra Lounge

Entree: Halibut en sous vide in herb butter, with pickled ramps, sweet plantain croquette, and molasses glaze. Dessert: Cheesecake with chocolate ganache, crisped rice, and raspberry puree.

Shane Robertson: Northshore Brasserie

Entree: "Jack & Coke" braised boneless beef shortrib with Belgian endive and celeriac salad, red curry jam, and natural pan jus. Dessert: Coconut-yuze gelee, pineapple coulis.

Not pictured – Chester Miller: Bistro by the Tracks, Entree: Pan-seared sea scallop with a potato cake, corn, grapes, and shitake mushroom jus. Dessert: Baked banana foster with homemade sea-salt caramel.

Not only was the food amazing, the venue was stunning on this gorgeous evening:

Crescent Bend House & Gardens

Great food, friends, and wine made a perfect end to my Knoxvillian Saturday. Sure, I had to get up and run 10 miles the next day, but it was worth it I tell you! And just in case you mouth isn’t watering yet, here’s a titillating centerfold of all the mouthwatering plates:

Sexy, isn't it?

Have a great day everyone!



4 thoughts on “Culinary Explicit Material

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