Culinary Fight Night Goes Down At Park Tavern In Midtown Atlanta
Culinary Fight Night® (CFN) returned this month with a bout for the ages. The hosting venue, the ever welcoming Park Tavern, accommodated the event on their open air, lower level deck. The center of the deck showcased the competitive kitchen – but not your average kitchen. All the “tools of the trade” (burners, pots, pans, etc.) were enclosed in a regulation sized boxing ring. Just in case a REAL fight ensued… I guess?
In a nutshell, CFN is a culinary battle composed of a RED and BLUE team of local Chefs who compete for the CFN Championship title and belt… that’s right, there is an actual championship belt! Tickets are sold to patrons who make up the audience and in return they’re treated to 3 fabulous meals, including appetizers and deserts. The proceeds got to a pre-selected local charity (or two). This bout’s proceeds will benefit the Atlanta Beltline Partnership and Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency. The champions are selected by a panel of judges made up of local celebrities.
This bout’s team rosters included (Blue Team) Chef Chapin Vilasineekul and his team – Chefs Shelly Cortes & Gary Kanevsky AND (Red Team) Chef Clarence Ridgley and his team – Chefs Jerome Scott & Tiffany Hill. The panel of celebrity judges included Chef Delroy Christian, Ginny McCormack (Chef and Author), Nina Brown (11 Alive television personality), Terry Dwyer (winner of the last edition of Culinary Fight Night), David Ralston (Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives) and Gyantt (pronounced like Giant, a celebrity blogger and BET contributor). The evening’s hosts included Chef Jason Ellis, formerly of the hit show Hell’s Kitchen.
Additionally, this particular Culinary Fight Night included two local Mixologists (Note: Mixologist (mix.o.lo.gist) [noun] – bartender, specializing in the mixing of spirits, liquers, etc.) that would pair each round’s dishes with what they consider the perfect, complementing cocktail. One of the mixologists was ReShanda Seymour, owner of The Perfect Bartender (www.theperfectbartender.com) – a bartending service in which you can choose your bartender from a pool of talented, attractive candidates.
At the opening bell, the ring girl made her way around the ring with the opening round card and by the time she was exiting, I could have sworn there were at least 10 dishes underway by the two teams. The dishes included beef, seafood, vegetables, sauces… and the list goes on. From that point, until the closing bell, the ring… I mean kitchen, was nothing but a flurry of mixing, slicing, dicing, frying, soaking and gamesmanship. Oh yeah, there was definitely some “smack talking” going on.
With all the incredible things that the team’s efforts yielded, the highlight of the night was a fish dish that was prepared (by Chef Vilasineekul of the Blue Team) using a 600 degree Fahrenheit block of salt. It was the most incredible display of cooking I’ve ever witnessed.
Throughout the night, the judges and patrons were treated to some truly incredible food – not the least of which was Chef Jerome Scott’s french bread. Wow!!! All I can say…
Ultimately, the judges – by only a 3 point margin – crowned the RED TEAM the CFN Champion.
-Jay Young for AOM & The “HIGH UP”. Photos by Jay Young and Britt Hutchinson.