Story by: Sarah Murphy Robertson
Anyone happening by Seacrest this past Wednesday evening may have heard the enthusiastic roar as Acme Ice House crowned their first Food Fight winner. It was a night celebrating culinary creativity and the crowd buzzed with excitement as two local chefs had one hour to create a minimum of two dishes with mystery ingredients.
As the competition kicked off, Chef Derek Langford from Bud & Alley’s in Seaside and Chef Chris Infinger of g.Foley’s in Panama City Beach were given their three mandatory ingredients: Golden Tilefish, King Oyster mushrooms, and white asparagus.
While the two chefs worked furiously against the clock, guests enjoyed libations and appetizers fit for true food lovers: tender and juicy short rib sliders, beets dressed with Florida honey, walnuts, and bleu cheese, and seared Ahi tuna wrapped in soy and ginger dressed soba noodles. The well-satiated fans eagerly crowded to watch the chefs work their magic as delicious aromas began wafting from Acme’s open kitchen.
Chef Derek prepared fresh ravioli filled with King Oyster mushrooms and homemade ricotta, sauced with a sublime mushroom jus crafted using honey, soy sauce, and veal stock and served with a shaved mushroom salad on top. Next he served his Tilefish dish: perfectly cooked with tantalizingly crispy skin atop an asparagus puree and accompanied saffron sauce.
Chef Chris presented three courses starting with a deviled egg with asparagus puree and a hot sauce gelée giving this little bite a kick. Next his cheesy King Oyster mushroom risotto was creamy and earthy and garnished with dehydrated mushrooms that were first boiled with smoky bacon. This dish showcased Chef Chris’s creative ambition and point of view. Lastly his Tilefish was accompanied by an herbed crab stuffing and resting on crisp-tender asparagus spears and a potato puree. All his components were seasoned to perfection.
It can’t be overstated how challenging a competition like this is. While both chefs are talented, experienced professionals in their field, a mere hour to create composed dishes from previously unknown ingredients in a pressure-cooker environment, is not an easy task. Both competitors were successful and presented stunning dishes in the allotted timeframe.
I was honored to be one of the three judges tasting and evaluating this amazing food. Along with Acme’s owner Bill Shoaf and Gulf Coast State College Assistant Culinary Professor Paul Ashman, we undoubtedly had the best jobs in the house. After a difficult deliberation with scoring so close the winner was decided by less than half a point, Chef Derek Langford received the coveted win and bragging rights. What a battle!
Acme Ice House’s next Food Fight is Wednesday November 19th starting at 6 pm. Stay tuned for the chef line-up and make plans to come experience the fun and creativity first hand!