Local Chef Battle Closes Out 2018 Strong, Brings Entertainment and Culinary Genius
How does it turn out when you pit a New Orleans chef against a North Carolina Chef? Saturday night, New Orleans native Wendell Randall, also known as Chef Dell504 did battle with Jerome Brown, also known as Chef Rome, in a first of its kind culinary showdown with this kind of rivalry between these two regions. Leading up to the event, the chefs traded words in anticipation of not only the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers second meeting, but the rivalry that formed between the two. Chef Dell504 and Chef Rome faced off as the sun went down in the outdoor bar area of the Treme Hideaway, a local entertainment and event space known for its live music and signature cocktails. The inaugural NOLA vs. Carolina Chef Battle was an event that surely didn’t disappoint.
Battle seafood with a tailgating theme was determined by the chefs in advance. One thing they didn’t know was what kind of seafood would be the star of the dishes. As the mystery box was opened, fresh drum fish, lump crab meat and shrimp would be the secret ingredients.
The battle would be judged by the owner of Treme Hideaway, Akello Patrice Dangerfield, Dr. Howard Conyers, a pit master and Rocket Scientist at NASA, Clairica Lange, Mrs. Louisiana Universal, and Trinese J. Duplessis, a local playwright, Radio/TV Host, and owner of T Duplessis Entertainment. Plating, overall presentation of the dish, creativity, and of course taste were the judging criteria. Here are how the rounds played out:
As the visiting chef, Chef Rome brought a little lagniappe with him. To start the seafood battle he snuck in a Shrimp and Lobster Cocktail which brought the creativity in this pre-heat. Not your traditional shrimp cocktail with layered flavors reminiscent of pesto and Pico de Gallo, this seafood cocktail was presented in a martini glass garnished with a slice of lemon.
Emceed by the beloved New Orleans own Wild Wayne of Q93, he jokingly remarked, “Do you drink it or eat it?!”
As the crowd chuckled, he added, “Seriously! They have Bloody Marys now that you eat with a fork.”
Before the battle, guests enjoyed a barbecue brisket, braised cabbage, sweet potatoes, and gumbo, courtesy of the chefs.
Round 1: Shrimp and Crab Spinach Dip by Chef Rome plated shared-style with toasted French bread garnishing the sides of the large bowl it was featured in.
Traditional Barbecue Shrimp by Chef Dell featured head-on shrimp and a traditional sauce to dip toasted French bread in. A self-proclaimed down-home, southern boy layered flavors with his signature sauce. The plating was a shared style that still showcased finesse and elegance.
Round 2: Avocado Crab Cakes with a Balsamic Reduction by Chef Dell brought the creativity with avocados and a signature balsamic drizzle. Garnished with micro greens and an edible flower, this flavor-filled bite had a pan-seared crust with melt in your mouth lump crab meat on the inside. The balsamic drizzle added a punch of flavor to finish off this course.
24k Gold Shrimp Po Boy by Chef Rome was an instant crowd favorite. The shrimp was cooked in edible 24k gold. You read that right, edible gold! Talk about creative. Garnished traditionally with pickle, tomato, and a mayo-like spread.
Round 3: Grilled Drum with Tasso Cream Sauce by Chef Dell was paired with sautéed baby spinach and served over grit cakes. Individual plates this round showed off his plating technique.
Smothered Drum by Chef Rome plated shared-style once again was garnished with edible flowers and micro greens. The aromatic spices used gave off a sweet aroma. The robust taste along with the perfect cook on the fish was the last of the main courses.
Round 4: Sweet Tea Poached Pears with Homemade Rum and Vanilla Whipped Cream by Chef Rome was a great finish to an amazing night of seafood dishes. As Chef Rome told judges, “In North Carolina we are known for our sweet tea.” So it only seemed right to finish in a fashion near and dear to his roots. The pears were topped with fresh berries and a chocolate drizzle.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bread Pudding with Sautéed Red and Green Apples in a Rum Sauce by Chef Dell brought a spin to a this New Orleans classic. Garnished with a strawberry, Chef Dell tried to get extra points from the audience by cooking extra for them to taste.
And the Winner Is…
Audience Favorite: Chef Dell504
Judges Favorite: Chef Rome
Well done chefs!
Piazza Seafood was pleased to offer the variety of seafood for the chefs to cook in this tremendously creative and community driven Chef Battle. Other local sponsors also donated prizes that were raffled off including a Saints bag from the New Orleans Saints, a two-night stay from Wyndham Vacation Resorts, and a two-hour ride from Exquisite Diamond Transportation.
Carolina may have brought the first trophy home, but next year New Orleans is sure to bring the heat.
Ready to try your hand at making one of the seafood dishes featured at the battle? You are in luck! Fresh and frozen seafood can be ordered directly from Piazza Seafood. If you are a business looking to buy from us, please don’t hesitate to enter in your information or call us directly at 504-734-0012.
Visit us at PiazzaSeafood.com to find out more about our products.