Beef short ribs.
Chicken breast and thigh.
Those were the three secret ingredients, in order of appetizer to dessert, tossed at area chefs competing in yesterday's Colorado Restaurant Association Pikes Peak Chapter 18th annual Food and Wine Expo at the Broadmoor.
As in past years, I was participating as a helper in the media-chef culinary competition, this time with chef Jay Gust of TAPAteria. Gust still holds a respected hat-trick during his time at the Ritz Grill, when he won this CRA event each year between 2005 and 2007.
Try as we did, victory was not ours in the end, as Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill took both the Best Appetizer category as well as the Best Overall Champion de Cuisine award.
My photos and notes below are limited to what I was able to nab before and after my cooking and pantry-runner duties, but I've at least got the deets on the wining dishes and a small taste of the larger affair.
CRA Pikes Peak Chapter board member Dave Brackett of Pizzeria Rustica and TAPAteria notes a "record crowd" this year. Before the hordes started filing through the doors, McCabe's Tavern's Greg Howard told me that pre-sale tickets were up by several hundred.
Lets give the victors their due first:
For the appetizer round, Sonterra's chefs took the beef short ribs and incorporated the meat into an arugula salad with a mustard-apricot vinaigrette.
With the chicken, they gave it a chipotle chile treatment and served it with a creamy manchego bacon nage over bacon rice and a four-herb chimichurri.
And for dessert, they constructed a vanilla goat cheese-stuffed wildberry-chestnut compote with a vanilla-cinnamon crème Anglaise.
For their entrée win, Amy Fairbanks and Larissa Vendola of GOGG concocted a pan-seared chicken scaloppini layered with green chilies, prosciutto, chèvre and handmade pasta with roasted tomatoes.
Edelweiss chef Jeremy Engle (who earned Best Overall in 2009 when he was with Jake & Telly's Greek Taverna) and crew assembled a blackberry-chestnut mascarpone inside a mint crepe with habanero-caramel sauce and spiced pears.
And now onto snapshots elsewhere from the day: