Sunday, June 08, 2008

Chef Greg Hardesty Wins Battle Lamb

Congratulations to Lungs for Life and The Chef's Academy who put together a terrific fundraiser on Sunday afternoon. Cooking for a Cause featured six local chefs working with a secret ingredient revealed just before cooking started. Chefs had 90 minutes to prepare three dishes using a beautiful, fresh lamb from the fabulous Knudsons at Viking Lamb. We judges were stationed in kitchens and Chef Tony Hanslits and Wish TV's Joy Dumandan did a great job emceeing the entire event with cameras rolling. (I really liked how they video running with commentary the whole time. The kitchens were a little warm so guests could easily watch the chefs and action from the cooler rooms.)

Competing chefs included Greg Hardesty (formerly of Elements), Neal Brown (L'explorateur), Ryan Nelson (The Oceanaire), Brandon Hamilton (Trader's Point Cafe), Jason Alexander (Chef's Academy), and Tommy Thompson (Fireside). Tommy and Brandon were last minute pinch hitters as flooding kept a few folks busy at home.

Judges included Bob Whitt (White River State Park), Paige Horrigan, Patty Denton (Too Many Cooks), Gary Bravard (Too Many Cooks), Terry Kirts (Indianapolis Monthly), Dennis Dunn (Elements), Dave Poole (St. Elmo's), and Jake Brenchley (Scholar's Inn). We even had guests at our judges table who got to taste alongside.

We only tasted six dishes at our table (one from each chef) but the stars were a cornmeal crusted fried green tomato with seared lamb loin from Neal Brown, a potato "risotto" with cheese, red pearl onions, and cherry tomato with lamb chops (Ryan Nelson), and lamb tenderloin seared and served on a bed of spring vegetables with basil oil and a red wine demi glace (Greg Hardesty.) We didn't get to see the whole spectrum but we hear it was close. Greg Hardesty was the overall winner with Ryan Nelson second.

Congratulations to the organizers, chefs, and all their crews who came out on a Sunday afternoon to support a great cause. (Plus, Greg took home a tasty $1000 check.) And the rest of you, make sure you put this event on your calendar for next year. It's sure to become one of the year's best.

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