Santa Fe Harvest Festival Chef Showdown round two

Twelve talented chefs strutted their stuff for round two of the Chef Showdown at the Santa Fe Harvest Festival as a  room full of spectators watched. The semi-finals were held at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. The  afternoon event began with the finals for the amateur chef competition.  He are some moments that were captured.

Ahmed Obo

Ahmed Obo of Jambo getting ready, photo/Steve Collins

All 12 finalists in the Chef Showdown chose their ingredients with care.

Chef showdown chefs choosing from pantry items

The chefs gathering ingredients at the pantry, photo/Steve Collins

The judges for both events took their job very seriously. For round one, they were sequestered. Round two had them observing the chefs at work and tasting each entry while spectators looked on.

Judging the first round of Santa Fe Harvest Festival's Chef Showdown

Judges (Anthony Damiano, Fernando Olea and Greg Menke) in serious deliberation over dishes from the amateur chefs photo/SteveCollins

For the semi-finals, chefs were limited to one pot of their choice, which they were required to bring. Eric Hall of La Posada’s Four Star Fuego had an interesting choice, a pressure cooker. It seems to have been a good decision; he made the semi-finals. He used an ingenious foil collar around the bottom of the pot to concentrate and hold the heat. Each entrant had to prepare their entire entry in 30 minutes using a single 7,000 BTU burner. It was interesting to see the ingenious ways chefs made the most of this. Chef Rocky Durham wrapped chives in foil and put the packet directly over the flame.

Eric Hall of La Posada's Fuego, photo Steve Collins

Eric Hall of Fuego at La Posada brought a pressure cooker, photo/Steve Collins

The camaraderie in the room was fun to watch. These competitors seem to like each other. There were a lot of hugs and high-fives.

Matt Ostrander, Executive Chef at Inn and Spa at Loretto

Matt Ostrander, Executive Chef at Inn and Spa at Loretto looking happy and relaxed, photo/Steve Collins

But cooking, especially under pressure takes a lot of concentration.

Mike Meisel of Red Sage, seasoning the pot

Mike Meisel of Red Sage at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, seasoning the pot, photo/Steve Collins

And for the all-important plating, neatness counts!

Rocky Durham puts the final touches on crepe purses, one of the finalists

Rocky Durham of Santa Fe Community College's culinary program, puts the final touches on crepe purses, photo Steve Collins

Deborah Barbe, of Cooking With Kids, the non-profit that gets a portion of the Santa Fe Harvest Festival’s proceeds, won the amateur competition. Even though her organization benefits in part from the proceeds, this decision was impartial. Her Thai curried shrimp dish wowed the judges.

Debby Barb

Deborah Barbe won the amateur competition, photo/ Steve Collins

The four big winners of the  Chef Showdown were Rocky Durham, from the Santa Fe Community College CulinaryArts Program, Steve Lemon of O Eating House, Kirsten Griffin of Café Café, and  Eric Hall of Fuego at La Posada Resort and Spa. They will take part in the final Chef Showdown, Sunday, November 13th, being held at a gala dinner at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa.

Rocky Durham, Steve Lemmon, Kirsten Griffin and Eric Hall advance to the finals

Rocky Durham, Steve Lemmon, Kirsten Griffen and Eric Hall advance to the finals, photo Steve Collins

The culinary celebrity chef judges for the final event are: Sara Moulton, John Sedlar and Bradley Ogden. Come support the Santa Fe Harvest Festival and the non-profit, Cooking with Kids, who benefit from a portion of the proceeds from the festival.

The winners, judges and Johnny Vee

Johnny Vee with the winners and judges (see below for who's who) photo/Steve Collins

Sunday, from 1 to 4pm, also brings the Grand Gourmet, an event Santa Fe Harvest Festival promoters, Wings Media, are calling a “culinary extravaganza” and the finale of Santa Fe’s Bar Wars. Come cheer for your favorite mixologist competing in this event . Grand Gourmet offers almost 50 booths filled with things to delight your inner epicurean; including food and wine tastings, demonstrations and a silent auction. The celebrity chefs, here to judge the final round of the Chef Showdown will be on hand. Sara Moulton, John Rivera Sedlar and Bradley Ogden, will meet and greet the crowd and sign their latest cookbooks; Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners ; John Sedler’s  Tamales (a collaboration with local celebrity, Chef Mark Miller) and Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden:150 Festive Recipes for Bringing Family and Friends Together.  You can do your holiday shopping at the Silent Auction. You’ll find dozens of great gifts at bargain prices! Proceeds go to benefit Cooking with Kids’ educational programs. The holidays are upon us and it’s time to eat, drink and be merry. Come out and join the fun.

Caption for the last photo: The chefs and judges in the photo above are, front row left to right,  MC for the Chef Showdown Johnny Vee towers over food writer Lynn Cline,  O Eating House’s Steve Lemon, Kirstin Griffin of Café Café, Judges Bradley Ogden and Anthony Damiano. In the back row, left to right, Zane Fischer writer for The Santa Fe Reporter, Eric Hall of Fuego and Rocky Durham, SFCC.

 Authors’ note: As former hotel concierges, owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business and in Santa Fe, the writers may have at some time been guests of business or services mentioned in this post. These experiences have not influenced this post in any way.

 

 

 

 

 

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