With the end of football season and the passing of Super Bowl, South Floridians needed some sort of friendly competition to occupy time this past weekend.
No, it wasn't baseball, or basketball, or even the Olympics -- we've all watched some version of those a million times over -- it was the cooking competition at the 15th-annual Delray Beach Garlic Fest in Old School Square.
While he was thrown for a bit of a loop with the mystery ingredient and rules, executive chef Bruce Feingold of DaDa Restaurant and Lounge took home the win for the second year in a row.
Bringing home the win was not an easy task. With tofu as a secret ingredient and a stipulation that all dishes must be vegan, Feingold and semi-finalist AJ Benacquisto, sous chef of 32 East were forced to switch menus after a 15 minute planning period.
Ultimately, Feingold's interpretation of Benacquisto's endive and apple salad with jicama and marinated onions in a creamy garlic tofu dressing; tofu ceviche with blood orange, local peppers, cilantro, scallions, and roasted garlic granita; and garlic grilled tofu steaks seitan braised greens with fingerling potatoes, roasted pearl onions, and candied garlic agro dolce were deemed the best by the judges.
"It was amazing," says Feingold. "This year was harder than last. The anticipation and the lack of meat killed me, and then moving stations and putting together his menu. I just hope I did justice to what AJ was thinking."
For the semi-finals Benaquisto and Webster were given beef jerky as the secret ingredient and fruit roll ups at the 30 minute mark.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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