Now in the semi-finals, the Crater Lake Chef Challenge is getting intense. Last week we watched as La Brasserie went head to head with Café Europa and then Stuft Pizza competed with Solano’s Bistro. Each chef was to create one dish in 45 minutes as opposed to two or more in an hour’s time.
Chef Emmanuel of La Brasserie would complete his dish first, offering the judges Veal, three ways. Served on a cassoulet of summer beans, chef prepared roasted veal chop with chanterelle mushrooms, poached veal tenderloin with a Crater Lake Vodka sabayon and sautéed calf liver with a Crater Lake Gin demi-glace and sherry. Chef provided a detailed description of the dish as it was presented to us. The flavors were incredible and the plate was as artistic as it was delicious.
Chef Allen of Café Europa would plate a combination dish including marinated venison with a Crater Lake Gin and berry gastrique, Mediterranean cous cous salad with roasted eggplant and seared scallops topped with a roasted red pepper beurre blanc. The venison was very tender and flavors of rosemary, thyme and orange zest made this a hit! It would be a tough call deciding who would continue. With an extra judge on hand, the results favored Chef Emmanuel of La Brasserie who will continue to the finals.
The second round of competition this week brought together Chef and Bar Manager, Matt Lehman of Stuft Pizza and Chef and Owner of Solano’s Bistro, Paco Solano. Chef Matt would pair oyster shooters and Lamb served on a bed of jalapeno mashed potatoes, garnished with jalapeno lime “caviar”. Chef Matt was sure to use all of Crater Lake’s products and even offered us a cucumber martini to show off his bartending skills.
Not to be outdone, Chef Paco would create an apple-mint cocktail to start us off. For the main course, filet mignon with fresh thyme and a hazelnut-chocolate demi-glace. The steak was a perfect medium rare and served with sweet potato puree and sautéed Swiss chard. Another tough call was to be made with these flavorful creations but in the end, Paco Solano would win his round in a very close competition with Stuft Pizza.
With Solano’s Bistro and La Brasserie continuing to the next round, the stakes are getting higher and so are the judge’s expectations. The competition is not over so come and support our local chefs and have the chance to win great raffle prizes while tasting amazing food provided by participating chefs and catering by Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill. Fixtures Living in Rancho Mirage will host the remaining Crater Lake Chef Challenge events so don’t miss out on the final rounds.


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