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!