IMAF Chefs’ Cup 2014
I was honored to be asked to judge the IMAF –International Migration Art Festival– Chef’s Cup 2014. This competition pairs Italian Michelin starred chefs and challenges them to create a dish inspired by a famous movie. The two finalists this year were Andrea Mattei of the Restaurant La Magnolia in the Hotel Lord Byron in Forte dei Marmi, and Iside De Cesare, Restaurant La Parolina in Trevinano near Viterbo. The film that was their inspiration was A Room with a View.
I met with my fellow judges, Ornella Fado, the vivacious host and creator of “Brindiamo!“, an Italian lifestyle and restaurant program aired on PBS’ NYC LIFE Channel 25 and on YouTube, and Josh Beckerman, the Foodie Magician, blogger for NYCfoodie, who entertained us with his jokes and amazing tricks, and the competing chefs at The Americano Hotel in New York City.
Andrea’s dish, Cuttlefish, Cereals and Herbs consisted of perfectly cooked cuttlefish with two sauces: one of wild herbs he had gathered and a creamy one made with farro. The dish was dusted with powdered squid ink and crumbled candied farro, a nice contrast to the tender cuttlefish and earthy sauces. We judges could not stop eating it, particularly the crunchy and slightly sweet and nutty farro. Squisito!
The second dish was Barley and Passion Fruit Pastiera in Pastry with Poppy Seeds by Iside de Cesare. The light, creamy filling resting on a tender pastry shell was accented by chewy bits of barley and garnished with candied strawberry “hearts” and candied orange zest. Passion fruit puree surrounded the pastry and entwined cookies towered above all.
We three judges conferred and found the decision difficult to make since both dishes were excellent. But we had to choose just one, and our votes went to Iside’s dessert because of its romantic theme, attractive presentation, harmonious flavors and overall deliciousness.
When I announced her as the winner, Iside looked shocked. She never expected to win, she said, “because pastry chefs are never chosen” over those who prepare savory dishes. I was very impressed with the two chefs, who are both so talented. They were able to work as partners even though they were competitors. I am sure that they have bright futures ahead of them. I have put their restaurants on my “must visit” list for future travels.
Ornella’s crew filmed the event for her show Brindiamo! so you will be able to watch it in a few weeks.