Three local chefs went head to head in a black box challenge during the Eat Local Sudbury Chef Showdown, much to the delight of judges tastebuds.
At the end, Ristorante Verdicchio's executive chef Alejandro Winzer came out on top, taking the win over Collège Boréal's Jean Huneault and Legacy Catering's Stephanie Piché.
Peggy Baillie, executive director of ELS, said the event was a success. Some 240 people packed the Copper Cliff Italian Club Oct. 27 to enjoy a three-course meal, with dishes from each of the three chefs, and enjoy the reality-show style competition. All funds raised at the event supported ELS in its quest to create a sustainable food system in Greater Sudbury.
Winzer used ground bison, fennel with fronds, ground cherries, daikon radish and duck eggs to create what he called the Nickel City Breakfast of Champions.
“Basically it is an interpretation of an 'almost' everyday Sudbury breakfast,” said Mark Gregorini, proprietor of Verdicchio's. “He made a sausage out of the ground bison, fennel and ground cherries by encasing it with saran wrap to shape it cylindrical and put it in boiling water to make bison sausage.
"The duck egg was poached to be the main ingredient of the dish. The 'fruit-slaw' is made with Ontario apple, which was part of the pantry, daikon radish and fennel fronds. The bread was garlic rubbed with extra virgin olive oil.”
Cooking with local ingredients isn't new for Winzer.
“We are strong believers in Eat Local Sudbury and using local product in our kitchen,” Gregorini said. “It's great to support the local farmers who work very hard during the summer and fall months to bring us fantastic product.”
Winzer has competed in various other cooking challenges with much success.
Gregorini said the chef's “clear vision, sense of time and ability to multitask” make him a contender everywhere he goes.
“He works hard, has a drive to always challenge to make himself better at his skills and encourages younger cooks to follow his lead instead of so many 'chefs' who ask themselves why they are in this business,” Gregorini said. “It's a fantastic feeling to know that we have great people in this industry such as Alejandro.”