Who needs Monday Night Football when you can witness acclaimed local chefs and award-winning mixologists, go head to head in a battle of Chilean cuisine and spirits. Last night, the National Restaurant Association hosted an event to highlight and celebrate the regional ingredients Chile has to offer. Every patron and a panel of culinary critics had the option to vote for one drink and dish to be named a winner of the evening. Lets take a look at the starting lineup:
Chef Felipe Milanes of Toro Toro and Chef Kaz Okochie of Kaz Sushi Bistro battled over Chilean salmon. If you are thinking Chile produces salmon… you aren’t alone my friend! Chef Milanes presented a Puerto Montt with cured Chilean salmon on top of crispy arepas with cazuela sauce while Chef Okochi created a Chilean Salmon Soup featuring miso, cream, onion carrot, potato, Naba cabage, and dill. Chef Okochie took home the critic’s choice for culinary cuisine.
Next up, was the battle over Chilean olive oil. Chef Justus Frank of Alphonse showcased poached octopus over chickepea puree with a chimichurri sauce against Chef Domenico Apollaro of Lupo Verde who created, “Terra e Mare”, which featured burrata, homemade fried smoked maltaiati pasta, prawns carpaccio, raspberry caviar, and volcanic salt. Chef Apollaro took home the people’s choice for culinary cuisine.
Chilean blackberries were the name of the game for Chef Victor Albish of Del Campo and Taco Bamba and Chef Riyad Bouizar of Mazagn Restaurant in Arlington. Chef Albish featured a smoked chicken liver crostini with burnt Chilean blackberries and Malbec mostarda. Chef Bouziar created a savory chicken tart consisting of a puff pastry filled with honey, almonds, and chicken topped with Chilean blackberries, and jam.
Mary Kelly of Del Campo and Francesco Amodeo of Lupo Verde were on hand to create cocktails using Pisco, a colorless brandy native to winemaking regions in Chile and Peru. Kelly won the people’s choice while Amodeo won the critic’s vote.
I must admit, prior to last night’s event my only knowledge of the country was it’s narrow landscape on the western coast of South America, thanks to Mr. Harshman’s 7th grade geography class. But after indulging in amazing food and conversation about the culture and people of Chile, it’s safe to say that I have one more destination to add to my bucket list.