Culinary Fight Club by Kiley Fields

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club…
…unless it’s a different kind of Fight Club…a Culinary Fight Club.

25 champions from 14 cities came together this past Sunday to compete in the 2019 Annual Culinary Fight Club Championship in Chicago.

Culinary Fight Club is a national organization that hosts live cooking competitions. Attendees watch while three teams race for 45 seconds to choose 15 ingredients from the ‘pantry’. Teams then have 60 minutes to create a dish that represents their take on the theme. Attendees and judges vote and choose a winning dish and a Culinary Fight Club champion is named. These 25 champions came out strong this past Sunday.

From home cooks to executive chefs, competitors highlighted different cultures, ingredients, and cooking techniques – all tempting the taste buds of ticket holders and judges. And let me tell you…it was delicious!

This was the first time I attended a Culinary Fight Club event and it will not be my last. As the season culminating event, this Fight Club took on a bit of a different format. The event started with the Culinary Fight Fest (CFF). The goal of the CFF was for attendees to taste all the bites the chefs had to offer in an effort to pick the top four favorites. For three hours my husband, myself and a few other friends, ate and drank our way through 25 different bite-size masterpieces while chefs described their dish, their cooking background, and what made their culinary heart tick. At the end of the three hours, the CFF concluded, tasting stopped, and ballots were cast. The four winning bites of the Culinary Fight Fest were announced, and these chefs advanced on to The Final Plate, the crowning competition of the night…

Best Bite Wins…
First Place: Kris Schoenberger (BBQ’d Productions Bar and Grill, Third Lake, IL) – Kansas City Wagyu Surf n’ Turf Slider
Second Place: Chris Allen (City Winery Restaurant, Nashville, TN) – Boston Scallop and Shrimp Aglio E Olio with Pancetta and Yukon Puree
Tied for Third/Fourth: Cory Hinton (Private Chef, Chattanooga, TN) – Romance of Eden, an elevated Shrimp Po’ Boy
Tied for Third/Fourth: Jamie Bisioulis (Private Chef, Glenview, IL) – Chicken Kiev Croquette with Candied Pork Belly

Pumped with a Best Bite win under their belt Kris, Chris, Cory and Jamie proceeded to the 45-minute quick fire challenge in the style of “Chopped” – creating one final dish for the judges to critique. It was an intense 45 minutes of concepting, creating, and plating while the audience watched and the clock ticked down. The buzzer rang and the cooking stopped.

All four chefs did a stellar job pulling together their dishes, but only one chef could prevail. The 2019 Culinary Fight Club Champion title was awarded to Kris Schoenberger. Chef Schoenberger was definitely a crowd favorite with his emotion (tears were shed), passion, and love for food and how it brings people together. This was his third year competing and advancing to The Final Plate Championship and his first win. He said “Three is my lucky number,” and I would say ‘Third time’s a charm’ definitely holds true for Kris.

To learn more about upcoming Culinary Fight Club events check them out here. You can also learn about the great way they are giving back by partnering with Fight2Feed, a non-profit organization with the mission to eliminate hunger in Chicago by utilizing leftovers from restaurants and food trucks.

In honor of the 2019 champion, Kris Schoenberger, here is my own spin on a Surf n’ Turf Slider.

Korean-Inspired Surf n' Turf Sliders with Daikon Carrot Pickle
Yields 8
  1. Daikon Carrot Pickle
  2. 5 ounces daikon, julienned or thinly sliced
  3. 5 ounces carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
  4. 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1/2 cup sugar, granulated
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. Bulgogi Sauce
  9. 1/3 cup soy sauce
  10. 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  11. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  13. 2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  14. 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  15. 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  16. Sliders
  17. 1 pound ground chuck
  18. 3 ounces bacon, ground or finely chopped in food processor
  19. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  20. 1 teaspoon salt
  21. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  22. Lobster
  23. 8 ounces cooked lobster meat, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  24. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  25. 1/2 lemon, zested
  26. 2 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more tt
  27. 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  28. salt and pepper, to taste
  29. 8 slider buns, for assembly
  30. Mayonnaise, for assembly
  1. For pickle, add daikon and carrot to pint size mason jar or other heat proof container with tight fitting lid. Bring vinegar and water to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Add salt and sugar and simmer until both dissolve, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully pour hot pickling liquid into mason jar with daikon and carrot. You can discard any extra pickling liquid. Let sit, uncovered, until room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and keep at room temperature if using within a few hours. If making in advance, seal container and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Pickles can hold in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  2. To a small saucepan add all bulgogi sauce ingredients, except sesame oil. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat and whisk to combine ingredients. Reduce heat and continue cooking until sauce thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. For sliders, gently combine ground chuck, bacon, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl. Form in to 8 equal sized sliders and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to refrigerator to allow sliders to re-chill, about 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
  4. While sliders are chilling combine lobster, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chives in a small bowl. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat or light a charcoal grill and let coals burn until hot and covered in white ash. You want to achieve a cooking temperature of approximately 400 degrees.
  6. When grill is preheated, place sliders directly on grill grates and let cook about 3 minutes on the first side until nice grill marks appear. Flip burgers and brush bulgogi sauce on top of burger. Continue cooking on second side, about 3 more minutes. Flip and brush sauce on second side. Remove sliders from grill and toast buns for just a minute or two. Assemble sliders – spread bottom of buns with mayonnaise, top with slider patty and brush with additional bulgogi sauce. Divide lobster mixture evenly between sliders. Finish with a fork full of daikon carrot pickle. Close sliders and serve immediately.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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