Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fill the Grill Challenge Round 2

Cheftestants Nicole Aidelbaum of WHERE Orlando and Christine Pittman of Cook the Story faced off for the second round of the Fill the Grill Challenge at Whole Foods on August 15th. The judges table was arranged much closer to the contestants, probably to avoid shoppers from walking through the competition on their way to the sandwich deli. The judges were, Chef Lenny, Brandon Moss and Chef Bruno, the winner of last year's challenge. Dishes were judged based on flavor, originality and plating.

Nicole grew up in the kitchen helping her mom who was from Puerto Rico. She learned her mom's recipes then went to work at a restaurant for ten years. She met a "foodie" (now her husband) who encouraged her to be more adventurous about food. Christine grew up in Canada where her parents owned a restaurant. She now is a freelance food writer, photographer and home cook. She did a run through the night before the competition to see how long it took her to prepare her dish.

Several audience members had made a sign that said, "Our Editor Sizzles! Go Nicole!" The cheftestants were given $20, and they had had 20 minutes to shop for their ingredients. Nicole was actually under budget and she went to get one more item. They were given a few minutes to prepare their work stations and then they had just 20 minutes to grill a delicious meal.

Nicole had this to say, "The dish I prepared was scallops marinated in Chardonnay, garlic and olive oil then grilled. It was served with a salad of grilled corn (on the cob then cut off), grilled red pepper, grilled onion, avocado, cilantro, lime and a dash of Cumin. The last addition was a grilled piece of baguette (multi grain baguette, sliced) drizzled with olive oil. I would've added a bit more salt to the salad to bring out the flavor of the avocado. I went sparingly and it cost me but you never know with salt."

Christine, "Made a skewer if grilled olives and lemons to start. The main course was a burger made of beef and chorizo sausage topped with roasted red peppers and onions. On the side was a salad of lightly grilled zucchini with a tomato and grilled lemon dressing and manchego cheese."

The last few minutes were a hectic flurry of activity arranging the food on plates, and then everyone watched as the judges tasted the dishes. They took notes and cleansed their palettes with water between dishes.  There was a long tense wait as all the results were tallied. The winner was... Christine Pittman.

Mark Your Calendar! Christine Pittman will face off against last weeks winner, Kendra Lott for the Fill the Grill Championship on Thursday August 22nd at 6:30pm at Whole Foods (8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando FL).

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


CookTheStory said...

What a fantastic description of the contest. I really love the illustration. Thank you for doing this. It's amazing.

Thor said...

Thanks Christine!