LITTLE ROCK — I don’t often get the opportunity to experience the culinary delights Arkansas’ chefs have to offer, particularly those outside of the Little Rock area. I tend to stick close to home most of the time, and I can usually be found in my kitchen whipping up the tasty recipes that appear on these pages.
So it’s a real treat when I get to be a part of an event like the Arkansas Hospitality Association’s Chef’s Culinary Classic and Silent Auction.
The competition, held Sept.
18 in conjunction with the AHA’s annual convention and trade show, drew chefs from across the state seeking top honors in four categories. This was my fourth time serving as a judge and once again, the chefs blew my taste buds away.
In addition to all of the great food, there was a silent auction to benefit the AHA’s educational programs.
It may be my favorite culinary event of the season, making new friends and dining on new dishes created by some of the best chefs in the state. It really doesn’t get much better.
I was at the entree table, its six entries each unique and delicious. Four of the six were beef dishes - tenderloin, short ribs, filet - but two chefs opted for sea bass.
And it paid off. Both sea bass dishes placed. The other winning entree was a beef short rib dish.
The first place winners received $500; second place, $300 and third place, $200.
There also were the Best of Beef Award and the Coleman Pride Award.
Congratulations to the winners:
First place: Adam Hanry of Camp Mitchell Retreat Center with Smoked Deviled Eggs
Second place: Brandon Douglas of Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School with Beef and Vegetable Tempura With Buttermilk “Srirancha” Sauce
Third place: Jackson Bolton of Clinton Presidential Center with Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
First place: Adam Hanry with Wrapped Pear Salad
Second place: Brandon Douglas with Beef Paillard Salad
Third place: Matthew Cooper of Lulav with Lobster and Sweet Corn Chowder
First place: Jamie McAfee of the Pine Bluff Country Club with Pan Seared Sea Bass with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce, Lemon Slaw and Pickled Watermelon
Second place: Matthew Cooper with Hibiscus Braised Beef Short Ribs With Parsnip Puree, Creamed Kale With Pancetta, Garnished With Hawaiian Hearts of Palm Pickled With Hibiscus and White Balsamic
Third place: Seth Harris and Tung Nguyen of Southland Park Gaming and Racing with Pan Seared Sea Bass and Seafood Roulade With Lobster Mashed Potatoes
First place: Matthew Dunn of the Peabody Little Rock hotel with Wild Blueberry Creme Brulee Dome
Second place: Adam Hanry with Banana Pudding
Third place: Seth Harris and Tung Nguyen with Pain Perdu
The Coleman Pride and Best of Beef awards went to Brandon Douglas for Beef and Vegetable Tempura With Buttermilk “Srirancha” Sauce.
The People’s Choice Award went to Jackson Bolton for Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.
Other participating chefs were Chris Chatman (Clinton Presidential Center), Clark Huff and Matt Clark (Aramark/Heifer International), Heidi Eppling, Andre Poirot and Larry Patrick(Peabody), Jan Lewandowski (Pulaski Technical College) and Robert Hall (Winthrop Rockefeller Institute).