Events and noteworthy news
By Sam Ujvary
Culinary Fight Club
Last night I judged an event, Culinary Fight Club. Every third Thursday of the month a different location and different Taste Bud Challenge is established, and three to four teams duke it out for a winning title. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary, and the challenge was Sips & Bites. Each of the three teams were tasked with concocting a craft cocktail to pair with a culinary piece that would perfectly harmonize it. In terms of judging these folks on their dishes—I had no business sitting at that head table next to the host restaurant manager, a marketing guru for U.S. Foods, and a previous CFC winner and top ten best sandwich-claimer at the World Food Championship in Vegas last week. But I was thrilled to be a part of it, so I did my best to put my knowledge to good use.
When it came to the cocktails, I had it covered. One team designed a dishwater-colored cocktail that tasted much better than its murkiness would imply. With a hint of St. Germain and a lemon zest to offset its sweetness, Grandma’s Kool-Aid was the only drink made without a tomato base—something I found interesting considering the other teams weren’t creating a dessert dish as their bite. They paired it with a small pork dish. The second drink, a Pinchelada, was a classic beer-and-tomato-juice Michelada, only with the team's own personal twist, and was paired with plantain nachos. The third drink was a lot more basic than the rest—a Bloody Mary. The third team—the winners—paired their basic Bloody with a piece of fried shrimp and an apricot jam of some sort.
What I adore about Culinary Fight Club and their mission, Fight2Feed. A mission to help fight hunger all over Chicago, last month they set out with a goal to feed 500 hungry Chicagoans. Quickly surpassing that goal, the team eventually raised enough donated food to feed over one thousand. Proceeds from each month’s Culinary Fight Club go to making these meals, and it wouldn't be possible without the team they've built. Anthony Martorina, cheferee and judge says, "We raise money by having chefs and home cooks performing a culinary throwdown. Then the money we raise is being used to try and knock out hunger in our city."
Here's to you.