Southern Ash's Joel DiPippa and his lovely wife Amanda, Dining With Debbie's Debbie Arnold and her husband Gary, Rock City Times satirist Greg Henderson, Red Kitchen Recipes writer Thanh Rasico, the original Fancy Pants Foodie herself Christie Morgan Ison and Monika Rued of the Arkansas Times -- who, dear readers, used to co-produce Today's THV This Morning with me a (cough) decade ago. Frankly, I'm not much of a people-photo taker. I have to work up my gumption to appear in photos sometimes myself -- food is so much easier to shoot (my regular traveling companion, Grav Weldon, was already on the way to Wakarusa).
That's a pretty cool idea.
On the stage, hubbub was happening, and those 20 minutes passed quickly. Dishes went quickly to the judges.
Chef Marc Guizol's submission was a lobster tartar bedecked with microgreens and cream, served with a peanut sauce drizzle.
Kevin and Pam cut it up on the stage with their enthusiasm. However, we were duly entertained at our own Alton Brown-esque commentator with Joel's witty reparte about the actions of the chefs, and his insight into different ways lobster might be prepared. We discovered we had a mutual affection for the old Japanese version of Iron Chef. Greg Tweeted out again over a "second fight between the chefs," and Monika was all into grabbing a selfie with me. Though it was loud in there, we managed to converse quite a bit.
The twenty minutes up, the chefs presented their second course to the judges:
Chef Guizol offered a coconut soup with lobster tail and lobster cream, garnished with lobster roe and served with a roe-studded crackerish breadstick.
Chef Capello countered with lobster tail over guacamole slaw, served with a goat cheese-stuffed zucchini flower.
Those of us who rushed the stage to get shots of the activities were amused by the judges themselves, who also pulled out their phones to photograph their food!
Well into the last 20 minutes. we chattered on, lubricated by liquor and excitement and caffeine. I felt at home here. I also relished my boots, which allowed me a quick arrival to the stage at each development. Yes, I was underdressed, but I was ready to tackle the world.
The final course complete, desserts were presented to the judges.
Yeah, I would never have managed all that.
Chef Guizol's delicacy? Smoked lobster claw with caviar-styled lobster roe, an Australian truffle ravioli and porcini mushrooms.
I would have given all the money in my wallet to eat that.
I haven't seen the final numbers yet, but I know thousands of dollars were raised for the school. That money will go to deferring the costs of attending such an amazing facility and program, and help make it easier for aspiring young chefs to learn and develop their skills in a prime environment.
There will come another competition next spring, and the cycle of determining the next Diamond Chef will begin. As for our blogging community, I think this was an important step -- a necessary one. As Jake Blues frequently said, it's time to get the band back together. The umbrella of sharing and promoting Arkansas's foodways is opening, and it's time to step out into the rain of change and innovation that's pouring around the state right now.