Saturday, June 11, 2011

Knife and Fork keeps winning

Those who have been following the Knife and Fork team's progress through the WNC Chef Challenge probably know by now that they won again in the semi-finals. The final will take place on August 13 as part of the WNC Wine and Food's grand tasting event.

Tammy and I were talking about Nate and his team winning three in a row against teams from very good restaurants, and we were wondering why they've done so well. The obvious answer is that Nate is an exceptionally creative chef, and he put together a great team. But then it occurred to us that Nate has particular advantage--which is represented by this photograph of Wendy writing up the day's menu at the restaurant.

Knife and Fork sources most of their ingredients locally, and they change the menu every day, depending on what is available. Most restaurants have a set menu and a few daily specials. It's not that Nate doesn't repeat himself or have certain dishes that appear frequently, but he really is putting together a menu every day. And it changes--every day.

The WNC Chef Challenge works on an Iron Chef model, so on the day of each challenge, the teams are presented with an ingredient (at the last challenge, it was peaches) that has to be used in every dish. They are then given 30 minutes to come up with the dishes (three per team) that they will make using that ingredient and a pantry that is well-stocked but is not their own. It stands to reason that if you are in the habit of making up a new menu every day in response to what's locally available, you might have a bit of an edge.

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