Culinary Fight Club – Savory Chocolate Chef Fight Chicago
Written By: Ryan Haber
Photos By: Ryan Haber
Is anything in this world better than Chocolate? I think not. Culinary Fight Club has been hosting monthly cooking competitions that benefit Fight2Feed. I have had the pleasure of attending a few of these events and they are eye-opening experiences. The Savory Chocolate Challenge displayed a variety of different ways that this cherished ingredient can be used. Hosted at River North’s best bowling spot, Lucky Strike, the event challenged culinary mavens to push the boundaries of the Cocoa bean.
I strolled into the event right as it kicked off. The room was filled with Chicago locals, food bloggers, and Chocoholics trying to get their fix. As an explorer of food far and wide, my focus is to find something that pushes the envelope while surprising my palate. It’s inspiring to see the Chef Fights developing events that stimulate culinary exploration in the form of a FUNdraiser. Unlike their Cocoa-counterparts (Reese’s Cup or Snickers Bar) the savory chocolate dishes presented did not induce a sugar-rush. The chocolate components of every dish maintained a subtle sweetness providing a depth and complexity uncommon in today’s culinary field. At every Chef Fight I learn more. From technique to inspired creativity, attendees witness aspects of cooking that not only excite but intrigue.
Culinary Fight Club’s Chef Fights are very fun and are a great environment for tasting new foods. Each month the location, challenge, and competitors change in order to provide a fresh perspective on the churning waters of food trends and the local culinary community. One thing that is constant is the purpose, Culinary Fight Club is here to help feed others in need. Reinhart Foodservice, a proud sponsor of these events, donates the food for the competitors allowing CFC to donate 20% of the proceeds to Fight2Feed. Aside from filling your belly, sloshing down a few beers and having a good time, every attendee is helping to benefit the community by feeding those who need it most.
After settling in with a Sam Adams, another generous sponsor, I strolled the floor with clutching my trusty Moleskin and Canon 6D. Chef Greg Gaardbro of Rocking Rodizio, Chef Miguel Ranel of Cooking Skills Academy, Jennifer Cox (The Marshmallow Fairy), and Chef Craig Cooper of Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse competed to create the best dish utilizing savory chocolate.
Jennifer Cox created a Savory Chocolate Hush-Puppy filled with Crispy Pancetta, Herb & Garlic Cheese, topped with Chocolate Ganache and Cocoa Powder. Miguel Rangel made a Chicken Mole with a spicy blend of three Mexican Peppers and Chocolate, garnished with Sesame Seeds on a bed of White Rice. Craig Cooper’s plate screamed elegance serving up a Cocoa-Crusted Beef Tenderloin along-side Fingerling Potatoes and Caramelized Onions with a Chocolate Reduction Sauce.
Greg Gaardbro served up a delicious Hanger Steak served with Heirloom Carrots and a Stout Chocolate Reduction.After much deliberation, Greg Gaardbro took home the prize. His dish was quite tasty, had a great rustic presentation it was served on a Cocobolo block with a gold chalice filled with Oskar Blues Stout. Creative as it was delicious Greg’s dish fully deserving of this win.
If you are looking for a fun food event you need to check out Culinary Fight Club’s Chef Fights. The next Chef Fight, The Chitown Taco is on April 17th at Cesar’s Killer Margarita’s on Clark. You will learn a lot, meet cool people, fill your belly with delicious tastings from the competition, and be supporting a great cause. Grab you tickets here, for the full schedule of events click here.
With 18 Lanes, 11 Pool Tables, Ping Pong Tables, and 3 Bars Lucky Strike is a great place to spend a few hours. Located at 322 E Illinois in the lobby at the AMC River East Lucky Strike is a perfect place to grab a bite or kill some time before or after a movie. Lucky Strike has some great specials. Mondays are Industry Nights, with $5 drink specials, and free bowling from 9pm to close. Tuesdays $20 gets you unlimited bowling from 9pm to close along with drink specials. Weekdays from Noon to 2PM bowling is free if you order food. Head over now and throw a few frames.