Pinot Grigio-poached Patagonian Toothfish on kale and pear salad with sautéed apple and Belgian endive proved a winning combination for Café Boulud chef Zach Bell at last night's Battle Sea Bass, a culinary throwdown highlighting Palm Beach County's first Taste of the Nation hunger benefit.
Cooking from a mystery basket of ingredients unveiled onstage at Cohen Pavilion in West Palm's Kravis Center just prior to the competition, Bell and 3030 Ocean chef Dean James Max were given 15 minutes to create a dish, which was then judged by two distinguished food experts and me.
Among the ingredients the chefs had to work with: sea bass, kale, pear, watercress, white asparagus, pineapple and Pinot Grigio. Max took a slightly different approach to the ingredients than Bell, dishing up sautéed sea bass on watercress-white asparagus salad with pineapple-chive vinaigrette.
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The event itself showed that the best local chefs don't have to hang their toques around the hotshots from any of the country's most acclaimed food cities. A few highlights: braised short ribs on a bed of pea risotto with poached egg from the Four Seasons, Echo's Peking duck leg with sweet sticky rice, Kubo's lobster beignets and maple syrup-glazed pork belly from Dada.
Best of all, the event raised some $60,000.