We were invited to a unique party this weekend - an Iron Chef Grill Off.
Our friends, C&T, have hosted this party in the past and it has become a successful annual event. It was the first year we have been invited. C even asked me if I would be a judge. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I said I would be willing to give it a try.
We showed up Saturday evening to their place. They have a magnificent home with a kick butt backyard. They have a screened in porch that leads out to a small deck. That small deck has stairs down to a large deck with a full bar, detached from the house but loaded up with outdoor speakers, a TV, lights, and, of course, all the liquor you can imagine . Further steps lead out to a nice yard. By the time we arrived, the chefs were working hard.
There were 4 chefs creating unique dishes using one key ingredient - strip steak. They could do whatever they wanted as log as it was grilled. There were four grills going, and sous chefs helping out as needed. The dished would be judged on presentation, creativity, taste, and dessert. I really thought there would be just one dish and a dessert, but I was oh so wrong.
The first chef handed us full menus for our meal. We were offered wine, then given a deviled egg appetizer. It was followed by sweet and spicy shrimp with stuffed mushrooms and grilled pineapple. There was a salad with a strawberry vinaigrette. The main course was kebabs (using the steak) with green beans ans potatoes. All of this followed a dessert of ice cream with caramel and bananas. It was tough to just eat one bite and pass it along to the non-judges, but there was still more food to come!
The second chef, thankfully, had less food. He made his strip steak inside phyllo dough and covered it with a mushroom sauce. There were sides as well, and a dessert of grilled peaches with ice cream. I really liked the phyllo dough, but it was not a hit with all of the judges.
The third chef prepared the whole meal by himself. He presented a tropical mixed grill featuring steak, shrimp, sausage, corn, grilled sweet potatoes and a fruit salsa. It was all really good. His dessert was peaches with a heavy cream and a blueberry reduction.
The final chef presented us with a limoncello cocktail before giving us a steak sandwich with crusty bread and a Gorgonzola cheese spread. It was accompanied with a pasta salad and dessert of a sweet biscuit covered with ice cream and peaches.
Everything was delicious. I was so glad that I tried a bite of everything, but I think there was more than enough food for everyone.
After careful deliberation, we came down to a tie between chef #3 and chef#4. In the end, the tropical grill won out, and chef 3 became a two time winner. I had a wonderful time, and mot even getting the finger from chef #1 dampened my evening.
I sure hope we are invited again next year, even though C told us that we could not be judged two years in a row.