Ladwig chops Beavers in Dueling Knives series

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Broadmoor chef Zach hoists the victor's trophy. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Broadmoor chef Zach hoists the victor's trophy.
Monday night, Chef Zach Ladwig of The Broadmoor's Penrose Room handed AspenPointe Café chef and reigning champion Brent Beavers a sound defeat in the kitchen of the Blue Star. This was the second in the Dueling Knives series, a chef-versus-chef competition sponsored by the American Culinary Federation Pikes Peak Chapter. In the competition, each chef has 60 minutes to prepare at least three dishes using the secret ingredients, which are revealed a half-hour beforehand. 

AspenPointe Café chef Brent Beavers put up a hell of a fight, not finishing too far behind Ladwig on the point scale. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • AspenPointe Café chef Brent Beavers put up a hell of a fight, not finishing too far behind Ladwig on the point scale.
Chefs Ladwig and Beavers were asked to cook dishes using chia seeds and sweetbreads. Ladwig prepared five dishes in total, starting the night with a soft scrambled egg with burrata milk, slow-braised blue foot mushrooms and roasted sweetbreads. Though the mushrooms landed a touch salty, the dish was rich and elegant. He followed with a black truffle dashi broth thickened with chia seed, with Hawaiian hearts of palms, poached sweetbreads, coriander, bronze fennel and shaved black truffle on top. Though the broth was earthy and rich, the truffle did not read clearly. He impressed us with seared sweetbreads in a pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar, served with grilled porcini and chanterelle mushrooms in aged balsamic vinaigrette and a salad of chia seeds.

Ladwig's two extra dishes were his strongest of the night. The first was a garden vegetable minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps. Ignoring the rich broth and fresh veggies, the sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, rich but bright, and the envy of every Chinese kitchen in town. But Ladwig went one higher, serving an English pea consommé with chia seeds, basil, mint, sautéed sweetbreads, vadouvan foam and nasturtiums. 
Chef Mark Henry, who co-judged, congratulates Beavers after a night of playfully harassing him. Henry will face Ladwig in the next installment of the Dueling Knives series. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Mark Henry, who co-judged, congratulates Beavers after a night of playfully harassing him. Henry will face Ladwig in the next installment of the Dueling Knives series.
Were this to show up on the Penrose Room's regular menu, it would be lauded.

Chef Beavers fired back with four dishes, starting with a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallot and homemade goat cheese. Creamy and rich, the bite balanced the endive bitterness. His second dish featured grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with a slaw of sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage. We found the bright slaw and the rich broth to pair beautifully. But Beavers stumbled on his third dish, a baby red bell pepper stuffed with brown arborio rice, sweetbreads, chia seeds and homemade bacon. While the bell pepper was fresh and full-flavored as could be imagined, both it and the rice came out undercooked.

"I had time [to finish cooking it]," Beavers says, "but I was worried about the funnel cake. I could have served them at the same time." It's a shame, because said funnel cake, his fourth dish, was pitch-perfect. The sweetbreads were chopped into the funnel cake batter, then served with fresh goat cheese blended with chia seeds, fennel pollen and maple sugar, finished with sliced fresh strawberries. 

In the end, that stuffed pepper was flawed enough to give Ladwig the win. (Disclosure: I was among the handful of judges, also including the Independent Food & Eco Editor Matthew Schniper.) Ladwig goes on to face Mark Henry, executive chef at Brother Luck's Street Eats, in January.

See more photos below:
Chef Ladwig's colorful and impressive mise en place. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's colorful and impressive mise en place.
Chef Beavers plates his first course, a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallots and homemade goat cheese. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Chef Beavers plates his first course, a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallots and homemade goat cheese.
Chef Ladwig's second course, complete with hearts of palms, shaved black truffles, and sweetbreads poached in dashi. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's second course, complete with hearts of palms, shaved black truffles, and sweetbreads poached in dashi.
Chef Beavers' second course: Grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage slaw. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' second course: Grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage slaw.
The finished third course by chef Ladwig: porcinis, grilled chantrelles, rosemary, aged balsamic vinaigrette, room temp salad of chia seed, sweetbread with pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The finished third course by chef Ladwig: porcinis, grilled chantrelles, rosemary, aged balsamic vinaigrette, room temp salad of chia seed, sweetbread with pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar.
Chef Beavers' third course: arborio rice and sweetbreads stuffed baby bell peppers with house bacon and honey-drizzled scallops. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' third course: arborio rice and sweetbreads stuffed baby bell peppers with house bacon and honey-drizzled scallops.
Chef Ladwig's fourth course: minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, served with courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's fourth course: minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, served with courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps.
Chef Beavers' final course: funnel cake sweetbread with goat cheese, chia seeds, fennel pollen, maple sugar and fresh strawberries. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' final course: funnel cake sweetbread with goat cheese, chia seeds, fennel pollen, maple sugar and fresh strawberries.
Chef Ladwig's second bonus course: English pea consommé with mint, basil, sautéed sweetbreads and vadouvan foam. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's second bonus course: English pea consommé with mint, basil, sautéed sweetbreads and vadouvan foam.

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