Eight local chefs and their sous chefs squared off at the Peabody Hotel Little Rock March 3 to win a place in the finale of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation's Diamond Chef Arkansas competition.
The competition, sponsored by the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, follows the format of the popular television show "Chopped." Chefs are presented a mystery basket of ingredients and have 40 minutes plus the help of one sous chef to prepare a dish using all the ingredients.
The winner of semifinal 1 was Chef Jason Knapp of Pulaski Technical College Big Rock Bistro, with sous chef Brandon Douglas, also of the Big Rock Bistro. The winning dish included thinly sliced Denver cut beef, mashed potatoes with kohlrabi, a cracker-coated crust with camembert cheese, and a pan sauce with dark rum, butter, cream and gooseberries.
The winner of semifinal 2 was Chef Daniel Capello of Chenal Country Club. With an almost perfect score, Chef Capello bested 2008 Diamond Chef Donnie Ferneau. His dish featured a mushroom and cottage cheese stuffed sirloin, crisp vegetables with fiddlehead ferns, blue cheese gnocchi and smoked sirloin with balsamic onions. The beef was served in a glass cloche filled with smoke.
Judges will score the dishes based on taste, presentation, creativity, sanitation and kitchen organization, and the top two chefs will advance to the Arkansas Diamond Chef finale on June 8 at the Statehouse Convention Center.
At the Diamond Chef Arkansas finale on June 8, chefs will create a three-course meal using a mystery ingredient announced just before the start of competition.
Tickets to the finale cost $150 per person and can be purchased by calling Jamie Higgins at (501) 812-2771 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 300 students attend the Arkansas Culinary School housed at Pulaski Technical College Little Rock-South, at 13000 Interstate 30 in Little Rock. The college offers associate degrees in culinary arts and in hospitality management and technical certificates in culinary arts, baking and pastry, and wine and spirit studies.