To cap off Millennial Week, Dirty South Deli, Eco Caters, Quickstep Catering, and Haute Saison competed in the Millennial Made Food Face Off Chef Challenge. Each millennial entrepreneur had a station where small bites were prepared live before the crowd. The event was sponsored by Union Kitchen and Catoctin Creek, and was held in the start-up incubator and event space, 1776. Upon entry, diners were given a ticket with which to vote for their favorite small plate.
Eco Caters, a catering company dedicated to locally sourced ingredients, and the official caterer of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, prepared a smoked sous-vide beef shoulder carpaccio with pickled summer veggies.
Dirty South Deli was onsite making mini lobster rolls with smoked butter, poached and searzall (toasted with a torch) lobster tail, garnished with compressed celery, and popcorn mayo.
Haute Saison, a diverse catering company, slow cooked chicken roulade with smoked celery root puree, chilled mushroom consommé and Yuzu.
And finally, Quickstep Catering won the competition “by a large margin” with a carved beef ribeye, “A-1 deconstruction” and potato foam.
I thought the carpaccio should have won. It was the simplest dish and was made with integrity and dignity. The other dishes had bells and whistles disguising okay food. There was just too much going on. It’s like when you get ready to go out how they say you should always remove one accessory. I wish these chefs had each removed one accessory. Choose either popcorn garnish or toasting the lobster rolls tableside (the Searzall method was fun to watch, but rolls either weren’t toasted or all, or burnt). Take a step back and make sure your chicken roulade looks appetizing, and not just like heavily processed chicken mashed together; then pick either the black rice crisps or the smoked celery root puree. A-1 deconstruction? Cool, but give me regular mashed potatoes. Potato foam is the stuff of my nightmares. Just the phrase “potato foam” is unnerving. Ribeye was on point though, so rightfully the spoils to the victor. I’d take this entire paragraph back if any of these extra flourishes had enhanced the flavor of their respective dishes. It felt like a food show-off rather than a food face-off, with companies flaunting random usage of unique ingredients, making for superficial “look how cool I am” dishes. Which is behavior typical of Millennials, so maybe that was the point?