I don’t care who you are but when it comes to cooking, I think we are all a little competitive. Whether you are competing with yourself to make something tastier or you are cooking with friends, you always want your dish to be the most original, the tastiest and presented like a piece of art.
This is the premise for the popular TV show where a set of “Iron Chefs” compete with some of the world’s best chefs in a battle of who can take a secret ingredient and showcase it better than their “friend.” (Cousin Joe…I’m challenging you the next time we are together!!!)
This is also the premise of Tokio Pub’s recent Battle of the Chefs Beer Dinner. Part of Tokio Pub’s monthly tradition of creating a unique and engaging Beer Dinner, last night’s battle gave me a lot to be thankful for this week!
Taking the home field advantage, Chef Naoki Nakashima (Tokio Pub, Red Team) combated with Chef Patricia Yeo (Big Bowl, Top Chef Masters final four, Black Team) in a battle called Japan (Red Team) VS China (Black Team).
The audience of diners had to judge on Taste (pleasing, complimentary flavors, textures and compatibility with beer), Plating (first impression/visual appealing), and Originality (uniqueness and creativity using all of the senses)
Each of the four rounds would have their own secret ingredient with a beer pairing. (I was lucky to be seated at a table with 5 regulars at Tokio Pub who were expert beer tasters!)
Round 1 (Beer Pairing: Lucky Buddha)
Secret Ingredient: Salmon
Round 1 was by far the hardest round for me to judge. Both dishes were out of this world. I was partial to the salad because there was this touch of heat that hit the back of my tongue after each bite but the creamy, yuzu miso sauce on Chef Nakashima’s salmon dish was PHENOMENAL!!
Round 2 (Beer Pairing: Dogfish Chateau Jiahu)
Secret Ingredient: Egg
For the second round, you couldn’t beat the “wow” factor of Chef Nakashima’s presentation. The egg wrapper was so delicate and impressive. Chef Yeo’s Son in law egg was wonderful, I just wanted more of the delicious tamarind chili sauce.
Round 3 (Beer Pairing: Blue Moon Tongue-Thaied)
Secret Ingredient: Chicken
Round 3 had mixed reviews all around the table. We all agreed that Chef Yeo’s tea smoked chicken was out of this world and I have yet to meet a dumpling I don’t like. I did love how the citrus of the orange shined in Chef Nakashima’s dish and I was an awe of my cute little carrot garnish!
Round 4 (Beer Pairing: New Belgium Yuzu)
Secret Ingredient: Chestnuts
In round 4, I had to disqualify any of my scores because of my chocolate allergy. This was another round of discussion between the men at my table. I watched with envy as they licked their plates clean! (And my hubby wasn’t complaining about eating MY dessert too!)
After all was said and done, Chef Nakashima was the winner!!! It was a close battle because all of the dishes were so delicious and beautifully prepared. I kept track of my own scores for the chefs and I only had a 3-point difference for the entire night.
Tokio Pub will be hosting a Resolution Revolution Beer Dinner on December 30 (and reservations are strongly recommended because there is limited seating.)
Thank you to Tokio Pub for the great night! (Also thank you to my table of gentlemen-5 of Chicagoland’s best doctors and my engineer hubby). I hope that Chef Yeo will challenge Chef Nakashima next year at Big Bowl!