Iron Chef, Chopped, the one where Gordon Ramsay swears at people and occasionally ingredients – these competition/cooking shows are now the mainstay of basic cable. But I’ve been a fan since a friend brought back 3 hours of the original, undubbed Iron Chef on a VHS tape (For the younger readers that is like a DVR but with extra plastic). Popping that tape into the player, I didn’t understand exactly what I was watching but it was exciting, suspenseful and I was hooked. I’m glad I don’t have cable anymore because I will watch any and all of these shows hypnotically.
Portland Farmers Market and our friends at Country Financial are staging our own Portlandia version of a cook-off: Meaning it will be a politer version of what you see on tv and with better ingredients. Anthony Cafiero from my brother’s favorite restaurant, Tabla will be competing against Jason French of Ned Ludd (who possibly ironically has a webstie), will simultaneously be without his wood fired oven and then has to compete against Anthony and Cathy Whims of Nostrana.
The Country Chef Challenge begins at 11:30 Monday, August 22, at our Pioneer Courthouse Square Market. KGW’s Drew Carney is handling the MC duties, Drew is definitely more Alton Brown than the aforementioned Ramsay but this fits in well with the laid back Portlandia aspect of the Challenge. Danielle Centoni of Mix Magazine, KINK’s Inessa and just to prove this isn’t your everyday panel – the Vice-Chair of the Portland Multnomah Food Policy Council, David McIntyre will judge. They say you can’t account for taste, but these 3 will try.
Market sponsor and Friend of the Market Country Financial has put together the event; having produced similar (annually; 5 and counting) cook-offs in Chicago. An extra bonus for us, our friend Carrie Corson of Country Financial, who was instrumental in making this happen, will be in town for the event. We usually work with Carrie via phone and email – it’s always nice to put in facetime with people. Carrie, who gets to enjoy both the Market and the glory that is Oregon in summer. I grew up a few hours north of where Carrie now lives, so I understand when she says, “Coming from the flatland of central Illinois, it’s not everyday you get to see such marvels of nature.” I’m not sure how much pull she has with the ingredients, but Carrie tells us, “I’m a fan of both peaches and melons, so it’d be fun to see the chefs incorporate them into their dishes. I’m also excited to see them use something I’ve never tried before!”
Come join us Monday at Pioneer Square. Good food, prizes (including a $100 gift card), canvas Market bags, fun, Drew Carney’s energy and a chance to see how some of the best culinary minds in Portland deal with Market fresh, seasonal ingredients and stress.