Pin It

Quick Bites: Confessions of an Iron Chef Judge 

When Source publisher Aaron Switzer asked me to be a judge in the Iron Chef competition at the Bite of Bend last weekend, I thought,

click to enlarge Image
  • Image
When Source publisher Aaron Switzer asked me to be a judge in the Iron Chef competition at the Bite of Bend last weekend, I thought, "How hard could it be?"

Because I don't watch television, I had never seen the show. But thanks to the pervasiveness of pop culture, I knew there would be two chefs competing head-to-head, a secret ingredient, and some creative dishes. My only hope was that I wouldn't have to eat anything disgusting, like shrimp or scallops, oysters or organs.

The first competition on Saturday was a breeze, at least for me. Two chefs faced off over game hen. Both appetizers and entrees were exquisitely presented and delicious. There was shrimp involved, but not too much. There was wine and sunshine. Life was good.

Blue Olive at Brasada Ranch and Jackalope Grill went head to head in the second round, but I remember the secret ingredient the most: pork belly. Basically, this is a fresh slab of bacon. Anyone who knows me knows I love bacon. In my world, the food pyramid is wrapped in bacon. I host an annual Pork of July party. When emcee Sandy Henderson of BendFilm asked the judges how we felt about pork belly, I gushed that I was in hog heaven.

My fellow judges were in agreement. TV show host Kristi Miller and Commute Options' Kim Curley both professed their affection for bacon and for pork in general. When Jason Logan, Chef of Bistro Corlise, said there should be a bacon flag, he was cheered, and not just by Jeff Hunt from Marz Bistro wearing a T-shirt that read, "Bacon: the Gateway Meat." Not surprisingly, all the dishes in this round were fantastic. To my delight, one of the entrees boldly featured thick slabs of fried pork belly.

Upon arriving for another shift of judging on Sunday afternoon, I learned that the secret ingredient in the previous round had been octopus, and that oysters had been featured some time before that.

I began to worry. I glanced over at Lance Schultz of S&P Meats, who had chosen and provided all the secret ingredients. He was suppressing a grin.

When Henderson revealed that the secret ingredient would be kangaroo meat, I winced. Fellow judge Andre Jensen and I texted a mutual friend: "bring us beer." Our Inversion IPAs arrived before the kangaroo Tartare and kangaroo Carpaccio, followed by seared kangaroo steaks. Perhaps the bitter brew tricked my palate, but the kangaroo tasted just like lean beef. For that, I was grateful.

I had almost recovered from eating marsupial when the final round's secret ingredient was announced: veal sweetbreads. Also known as offal, sweetbreads are organs. To be specific, these sweetbreads were the thymus glands of tender, young calves. Uncooked, they looked like mutant jellyfish made of chicken. Cooked, they resembled flattened brains.

Fortunately, in the hands of skilled chefs from Jen's Garden (in Sisters) and Fireside Red, the dreaded sweetbreads were quite palatable, as were the hazelnut-encrusted oyster and the shrimp and scallop stacked salad. In the end, Fireside Red's Jeremy Baumgartner won the grueling two-day competition, and he will go on to compete in the Iron Chef competition at the Bite of Oregon in August.

Good luck, Jeremy, and thank you for the palate-expanding experience! - Renée Davidson


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Dining

More by Intern

  • The Other Half of the Yoga Equation

    The Source Issue 45 (Nov. 10) contained wonderful information about the forms of yoga offered in our vicinity. Most of the information covered pertained to the socially enjoyable forms of yoga enjoyed by the folks who use yoga mats and bendy posturing as they concentrate on improving their blissful breathing techniques. These physical forms of yoga are the beautiful compliments to the mental, mindful and meditative forms of yoga that balance the larger yoga (yogic) equation. Yoga is basically a non-denominational practice aimed at balancing the physical (body) existence with the meta-physical (mind) reality. The ensuing mind-body balance creates the union required for an increased "understanding" (consciousness) of the "living experience."
    • Jan 25, 2012
  • Walden's Corporate Servitude

    In the time-honored American tradition of peaceful civil disobedience, I am proud to be one of eight Central Oregon citizens arrested on December 5 in Congressman Greg Walden's Bend office. At our January 26 trial we plan to present a compelling defense. This act of dissent follows years of futile attempts to encourage the Congressman to hold open, unscripted town meetings accessible to a majority of his constituents. The Congressman has grown so suspicious of impromptu encounters with ordinary citizens that on Saturday he required a Bend Police Department intervention that enabled him to enter the Water Project meeting at the Chamber of Commerce through the back door. (Greg, we are nonviolent people who believe that democracy thrives on open dialogue and transparency; there is no reason to avoid us.)
    • Jan 25, 2012
  • Doors of Equality Swing Both Ways

    I had to respond to "What's Wrong with Siri," (News, 1-4) since Apple's Siri isn't the problem. Three hours before I read, "What's wrong with Siri," I went to a store in town and complimented the cashier that this was the nicest "dollar" store I had ever been in.
    • Jan 11, 2012
  • More »

© 2016 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation