The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, a live, local, interactive culinary competition concluded in front of a sell-out crowd at the Inn at the Colonnade a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel (4 University Parkway, Baltimore).
The bracket-style single-elimination tournament started back in June with 16 area chef teams vying for over $10,000 in cash and prizes, and the title of “2014 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions”.
After 14 events, and seven weeks of competition, Conrad’s Seafood and Chefs’ Expressions went head-to-head for one final match on Sunday, August 24th. Both teams brought their expertise and creativity to “Battle Craft / Local Artisan”, but only one emerged as the Champions – Conrad’s Seafood!
Both chef teams were required to use a variety of featured products including an award-winning Berkshire Hog supplied by Autumn Olive / AM Briggs, horseradish from Tulkoff Foods, oysters from E. Goodwin and Sons, sweet country sausage from Logan’s Sausage, domestic wild rice from Roland Foods, Milano hot coppa from Atalanta, and unsalted Vermont butter from Emmi Roth USA. In addition, each chef team had two secret ingredients they had to incorporate at the last minute. Conrad’s secret ingredients were guanciale and Vidal Blanc wine from Boordy Vineyards (who also hosted the wine tasting for the Final Match), Chefs’ Expressions secret ingredients were pancetta and a Boordy Reisling.
The Conrad’s Seafood team (Executive Chef Jake Hack, Sous Chef Joe Lancelotta, and Chef Assistant Gary Citterman), had 30 minutes of cold prep and just one hour of cooking time to produce their winning dishes of DECONSTRUCTED MARYLAND COBB (Artisan greens, fried oyster, chicharrones, sweet sausage vinniagrette, quail egg), THREE LITTLE PIGS (Roulade of pork with oyster and sausage stuffing over cured pork grits and fried lollipop kale), and PORK AND PEACHES (Pork and peach cake, bruleed peach, and pecan brittle), a dessert that “wowed” all three expert judges.
The Chefs’ Expressions team (Executive Chef Adam Snyder, Sous Chef William Jones, and Chef Assistant Adelaide Kachur) created equally impressive dishes of CRISPY WILD RICE PANCAKE and OYSTER FRITTER (with horseradish sausage aioli and crispy fried coppa salad) for the appetizer, PETERMAN’S MAPLE SUMAC GLAZED PORK SHOULDER (with farmstand black walnut romesco, and purslane salad with baby potatoes) for the entrée, and STICKY PAW PAW PUDDING (paw paw Riesling sorbet, wild mint gastrique, and Jenny's apples) for dessert.
The expert judging panel for the night was Mitchell Platt, General Manager of The COSMOS Club in Washington, DC, Chef Marc Dixon, Owner of Barconcina, and Chef Neill Howell, owner of The Corner Pantry and last year’s Mason Dixon Master Chef Champion. This panel, along with audience members who purchased ‘Judging Experience’ tickets, tasted and voted to determine the night’s winner.
The winning Conrad’s Seafood team received almost $10,000 in prizes, including: $1,000 cash from the organizers, a Wisconsin cheese making trip with sponsor Emmi Roth USA which includes airfare and an overnight stay with behind the scenes education and tours of cheese making facilities as well as a beer brewery tour (valued at approximately $3,000), a Vulcan convection oven (valued at $3,000), a professional Robo Coupe food processor ($800), a bar basket from American Metal Craft, a day of training with German Certified Master Chef Edwin Scholly, the official Chef a la Mode Championship jacket, a plaque for the winning restaurant, metals for each member of the winning team, and of course bragging rights as the 2014 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions! The First runner up also receives culinary prizes from sponsors valued at over to $1,100.
However, the biggest winner of the night was charity partner Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (www.mealsonwheelsmd.org), who received a check for $3,200 from the organizers. With this check, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament has now donated over $11,000 to local food-related charities since it began in 2010.
The organizers would like to thank all of their sponsors, the chefs and restaurant participants, the expert judges, and everyone who came out to support the event over the summer. People interested in finding out about next year’s tournament or chefs interested in applying to compete should visit the web site at www.MasonDixonMasterChef.com to sign up for updates or fill out the online chef application.