Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor

Chefs sizzle during intense competition

Chris Davy had a good feeling the Iron Chef trophy would be staying in his hands.

Chris Davy had a good feeling the Iron Chef trophy would be staying in his hands.

Davy, a chef for Gumtree Catering, was with Team Intermezzo last year in the inaugural Moms Making It Happen Iron Chef competition and fundraiser at Turtle Mountain Vineyards. The Intermezzo cooks beat a trio from Gumtree Catering by one point.

On Sunday at Turtle Mountain, in front of a capacity crowd, Davy and his all-male trio from Gumtree – who won the Iron Chef competition at the recent Interior Provincial Exhibition – defeated the all-women trio from Sprouted Fig by 12 points as deemed by celebrity judges Lori Hancock, Mayor Wayne Lippert, Brian Martin of Sun-FM and Funtastic executive director Jim McEwan.

“I have to thank the people behind the scenes, a lot of people forget about them,” said a grateful Davy after the hour-long competition. “I have to thank the Sprouted Fig for a great challenge and for their first time out, I have to say, ‘Wow.’ Their plating and the food they put out shocked and surprised us. They should be very proud.

“My team (chefs Steve Quibell and Bob Dykes) was superb. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”

The two teams were given an hour to create five different dishes and had to include the secret ingredient – aurora golden gala apples, donated by host Sid Sidhu’s Bella Vista Farm Market – in each dish.

As the audience was enjoying appetizers and beverages, they had an opportunity to watch the teams prepare and create their dishes, courtesy of a large screen TV and Bruce Mol’s videography skills, a new feature added to the competition.

Gumtree’s chefs started with a warm roasted scallop and spinach salad, garnished with lettuce and the apples, and a champagne wine pesto vinaigrette.

They then brought the judges a spaghetti squash and apple soup with a sundried tomato chicken salad on the side put on a homemade soda biscuit.

The third dish was a spaghetti squash and apple stuffed ravioli with a demi orange and apple muscat (like a port).

The main course started with a sorbet margarita, made with apple and cinnamon, and a cinnamon and salt rim, followed by spaghetti squash and apple stuffed leg of lamb with a chocolate hazelnut port, touch of rosemary, caramelized carrots, pan-fried radish and scalloped potato.

Desert included an apple cinnamon marshmallow, goat cheese cheese cake with pecan and almon crumble, caramel underneath and three apple slices.

For the women of Sprouted Fig, led by chef Lisa Taylor, and helped by Brittany Booth and Sarah Cripps, Sunday’s competition was their first.

“It was great,” smiled Taylor afterwards. “There was lots of intensity and stuff, but everybody had fun. We knew we were up against a tough team but we brought our “A” game and tried our best. We knew our food was flavourful and had flair, and was fresh and tasty. That’s what Sprouted Fig is all about.”

Taylor’s team began with a crisp spinach salad completed with apples, toasted pecans and a citrus vinaigrette.

They brought out a butternut squash with apple soup, topped with basil oil.

That was followed with a pan-seared Atlantic salmon with chipotle seasoning and an herbed apple slaw.

For its main course, Sprouted Fig went with a root vegetable risotto with pesto, roasted lamb and a caramelized apple composté.

And, finally, for dessert, the judges were presented with a dark chocolate mousse with fruit salad.

The competition raised approximately $2,500 for the North Okanagan Neurological Association (NONA).

“It is very generous of Moms Making It Happen to recognize NONA as we need and appreciate the support,” said NONA representative Helen Armstrong, who, along with her daughter, had the chance to be among the celebrity judges taking part.

For Kyla Macaulay, owner of Gumtree Catering and the representative for Moms Making It Happen, which organizes one major charity event per year, the second Iron Chef competition was a big success.

“I thought this year was even better than last year,” said Macaulay. “We made our improvements, added the TV screen so everyone could see what was happening. The food was great, the chefs all did a great job. The Sprouted Fig certainly brought it.”