The Culinary Fight Club takes steak challenge to Chicago

by Donna Berry
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Chef Stephen Sandoval, Lena Brava
Chef Stephen Sandoval of Lena Brava took top honors in The Culinary Fight Club 2017 Steak Challenge.
 
The Culinary Fight Club, a national food sport organization that produces live cooking competitions to highlight local culinary talent, ingredients and resources, hosted the 2017 Steak Challenge in Chicago on July 17. This new summer event features chefs and home cooks competing to show off their steak cooking skills in a high-energy kitchen environment with a time crunch. Chefs start with a 45-second pantry race to source ingredients and then have 60 minutes to plate the perfect steak that will be critiqued on taste and temperature accuracy.

Chef Stephen Sandoval from the Chicago restaurant Lena Brava won the competition. Staying true to his Argentine roots, he created a fresh cherry-churri, a chimichurri with grilled cherries poached in balsamic, to top his New York strip steak. This was served with a side of Patagonian-style potatoes topped with Oaxacan passilla-mushroom purée.

New York strip steak topped with a seared jumbo shrimp by Chef Joelle Brown, Nola Nights
Chef Joelle Brown presented a Cajun twist on two classic dishes.
 

Chef Joelle Brown of Nola Nights Southern Aromas served a New York strip steak topped with a French-fried potato nest and a Cajun shrimp, bacon and mushroom cream sauce. On the side were balsamic glazed carrots and a seared jumbo shrimp.

“It was a take on two classics: ‘steak and frites’ and ‘surf and turf’ with a Cajun twist,” she said.

Chef Geo Phelps of Chili Rocks prepared a New York strip teak marinated in a blend of two of his more popular Chili Rocks Sauces: Apple-Peno Blaze Glaze and Fiery Peppers Habanero Teriyaki.

New York strip steak marinated in a sauce blend by Chef Geo Phelps of Chili Rocks
Chef Geo Phelps used a blend of his two popular sauces as a marinade for New York strip steaks.
 

“Prior to marinating, I added some chopped garlic and bacon fat, then marinated the steaks while preparing other parts of the meal,” he said. “Chopped mushrooms and onions were marinated in butter and a small amount of the marinade mix. To this we added red and green bell peppers, and then diced potatoes that were boiled with butter, rosemary, salt and pepper.

“The third item we prepared were slices of pineapple on the grill,” he said. “We cooked them until golden brown. Then we took the pineapple and sliced them into small pieces, stirring this into the chopped bacon and marinade blend to create a pineapple bacon slaw topping.”

Beef tenderloin kabobs by Chef Corey Rice
Chef Corey Rice, a contestant on Master Chef, prepared beef tenderloin kabobs.
 

Chef Corey Rice, a Chicago-based home cook who competed in Master Chef season seven, prepared beef tenderloin kabobs lightly glazed with a Dijon herb sauce. This was served with a side of roasted tomato polenta and grilled carrots.

The Steak Challenge competition also occurred in Kansas City, Missouri, Indianapolis and Boston.

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