Chefs compete in cooking competition in Ridgefield
Published 4:34 pm, Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Sarah Bouissou, co-owner of Bernard's restaurant and Sarah's Wine Bar in Ridgefield, believes she's the best cook in town. Well, maybe not, but she is confident, however, that she'll come out the victor in "Battle of the Chefs," the first-ever chef competition to benefit Founders Hall.
The competition will be on Sunday, June 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Founders Hall in Ridgefield. In front of more than 200 guests, three local chefs and restaurant owners -- Bouissou; Art Michaelsen of Bartolo in Ridgefield; and Raffaele Gallo of the Boathouse at Saugatuck in Westport -- will compete to create an entree from a basket of surprise ingredients.
The chefs will have 40 minutes to make the entree, which will be presented to a panel of judges. National food writer and critic Jane Stern -- author of the Roadfood travel guides -- will emcee. Tickets range from $125 to $500.
Michaelsen said while he has a solid footing in knowing how to present a plate to a judge, he's most concerned about working under pressure.
"Having a mystery basket, trying to formulate what I'll make, and then executing it will make the time get away from me pretty quickly," said Michaelsen, 46, of Brookfield. "I hope there's something in the basket I've seen that the other two haven't. That's my game plan."
More InformationIf You Go: Battle of the Chefs, Sunday, June 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Founders Hall, 193 Danbury Road, Ridgefield. Tickets are $125 to $500. Call 203-431-7000 or visit www.founders-hall.org.
Gallo said he has no doubt he will win. "They have no chance with me. I'm comfortable in making it happen," said Gallo, 40, of Ridgefield, and the former owner of Toscana restaurant in Ridgefield. "I'll be happy to share my recipe with Sarah and Art."
New Haven Register food columnist Stephen Fries is one of the judges -- along with Denise Mickelsen, senior editor of "Fine Cooking" magazine and Jocelyn Maminta, an Emmy-nominated News 8 medical reporter.
Fries said the judging will be based upon taste, presentation and creativity. "The creativity involves taking ingredients you might not otherwise have thought of putting together, but when you taste them you discover they go well," said Fries, 56, of New Haven.
One successful combination is bacon and chocolate. "There are a lot of chocolate bars in upscale gourmet chocolate shops that offer this combination," Fries said. "Years ago, you would never have thought about using bacon with chocolate, but it works."
Stern said when judging food, "I look for a balance of flavors. Proteins should be balanced with carbohydrates. Tart and sweet flavors should bounce off each other," said Stern of Ridgefield, who is 66.
"These are all sophisticated chefs, many of whom have worked in the best kitchens in the world. What might trip them up is they try to outdo each other for something really unique and spectacular looking, yet they forget the food also has to taste great," Stern said. "When the fork goes in the judges' mouth, are they going to go `wow' or `blech?' "
According to Grace Weber, executive director of Founders Hall, "This will be a fun and exciting event for the community. The proceeds will go toward programing and activities for all our members," said Weber, of Danbury.
Bouissou, of Ridgefield, said she feels confident she has what it takes to win. "I can think on my feet very quickly and I'm very good at multitasking," said Bouissou, 48. With a chuckle, she added "Being a woman, I do want to beat the guys."
Founders Hall, which opened in 2003, is a nonprofit recreational center for people age 60 and up. It has more than 3,000 members from Ridgefield and surrounding communities.
If You Go: Battle of the Chefs, Sunday, June 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Founders Hall, 193 Danbury Road, Ridgefield. Tickets are $125 to $500. Call 203-431-7000 or visit www.founders-hall.org.
Sandra Diamond Fox is a freelance writer in Connecticut and can be reached at Sandraifox@aol.com.