Bravo’s Top Chef Tour Orlando – Event Recap

Bravo’s Top Chef Tour 2011 made a stop in Orlando, FL at the Lake Eola’s Farmers Market earlier this month. The tour stop included a head to head cooking battle between two contestants from the Top Chef TV show. Chef Kenny Gilbert of Season 7 and Chef Eli Kirshtein of Season 6 cooked with the main ingredient of Cod fish, putting their own spin on it with ingredients they brought.

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The two chefs cooked under a tented area in front of a seated audience and a judging panel of three local people. We were able to go inside the tent first and sat in the front row and center to catch all the action. I was joined by Pearleen of MegaYummo, her husband Al, and journalist Karen Kuzsel. Special thanks to Amy Cao and Foodspotting for getting us into the seated area.

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The tent seating was limited and those seated were able to taste the food made by the chefs. I was excited because I have watched these guys cook on both of their seasons and curious on what a Top Chef would make. Chef Kenny was my pick from the beginning to win Top Chef Season 7 in Washington D.C. so seeing him live was really cool. He was eliminated during the season, but he was a beast in the kitchen from the start.

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The chefs cooked 4 times that day using the same main ingredient of Cod fish, with their own secret ingredient. The audience seats were a limited number of tickets that were available for advanced pre-registration. I’d say a good number of people in Orlando were able to experience the live cooking and taste the food after four cooking demos.

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There was a crowd gathered outside of the tent watching all of the action, right beside the Lake Eola’s Farmers market.
 

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Chef Kenny Gilbert of Top Chef Season 7
 

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Chef Eli Kirshtein of Top Chef Season 6
 

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The judging panel consisted of 3 locals. Orlando Commissioner, Patty Sheehan was a guest judge, and two other judges were selected from the audience. To pick the other 2 judges, the host was asking Top Chef trivia questions and I unfortunately blanked on most of them. Karen Kuzsel of Prevue Magazine who joined us, answered a question and got to be a judge, along with Mike from Melbourne, Florida.

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Chef Kenny preparing a Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Cod with Almond Coriander Puree, Cilantro Lime Pesto, and Mango Quinoa Salad. His secret ingredient he brought was cinnamon.
 

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Chef Eli made what he called “Fish and chips, without the chips”. It was Tempura Cod with cilantro and dill white sauce, with watermelon. His secret ingredient was capers, but not sure if he used them. Most likely in the sauce?
 

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Both chefs seemed to have a good time cooking and answering questions by the host. Chef Kenny was very cool and laid back answering questions from the crowd. He owns and operates his restaurant Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach, FL. I see a trip to Jacksonville soon for Droolius!
 

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Chef Eli was funny with his replies and talked about Southern cooking. The Atlanta chef plans on opening his own restaurant later this year. Road Trip to ATL anyone?
 

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After 20 minutes, “utensils down, hands up” the battle was over.
 

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The judges’ plates served on stage.
 

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The audience plates – we got to eat a sample portion of the food prepared from the competition.
 

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Chef Eli’s Tempura Cod with cilantro and dill white sauce, with watermelon.

The Cod was light and properly fried. The sauce gently complimented the fish and the watermelon gave a refreshing note to the dish.
 

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Chef Kenny’s Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Cod with Almond Coriander Puree, Cilantro Lime Pesto, and Mango Quinoa Salad.

The cinnamon coffee rub was great on the Cod. The puree and pesto definitely added some bolder flavors which I really liked. The Mango Quinoa Salad was a great compliment to the dish and I could have enjoyed that by itself.
 

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The judges deliberating intensely while we ate. My winning pick was Chef Kenny’s Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Cod!
 

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In end of this 12pm round, it was Chef Eli that came up with the win by the judges, 2 to 1 vote. At the end of the day, Chef Kenny Gilbert won the #TCTour Orlando with his Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Cod.
 

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Photo op with the 2 Top Chefs! Chef Kenny, Droolius, Chef Eli
 

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This was a fun and awesome event to attend! The Bravo Top Chef Tour has 21 stops across the nation and I’m really glad they were able to stop in Orlando. Many thanks to Foodspotting.com and Amyblogschow.com for hooking it up!

Words and photos by Julius Mayo Jr.
Content and photos © Droolius.com 2011

 

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**Bonus photo by MegaYummo – Droolius using both iPhone and Android versions of Foodpotting App!

Check out my Foodspotting page for food I spot http://www.foodspotting.com/people/droolius

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