NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Three local chefs matched sharp knives and quick wits at Battle of the Chefs, which raised over $43,000 to support life-long learning at Founders Hall in Ridgefield.
Chefs Beck Bolender of One Twenty One in North Salem, Jehan S. de Noüe of Albano Appliance and JSN Catering in Pound Ridge, and Frank Bonnaudet of Sucré Salé in Ridgefield, each opened a basket of surprise ingredients in front of an audience of over 150 people and in 60 minutes competed to create the winning entrée as judged by a panel of food experts.
Bolender edged out the competition by creating a fig-encrusted chicken breast with a roasted poblano and corn salsa atop a bed of chicken-fried rice, which won based on its taste, presentation and creative use of the required ingredients.
“I am grateful that I had such great chefs backing me up during the competition,” said Bolender of his sous chefs, Jess Laguerta and David Fierstein. “It was the most intense hour we had ever worked together but in the end we had fun and came out on top.”
Battle judge Ron DeSantis, director of culinary excellence at Yale University, praised Bolender’s cuisine for “its explosion of flavors.”
Brendan Walsh, dean of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, noted that all three chefs set a high bar for the competition during the appetizer round, when they each prepared appetizers for the crowd using the required ingredient of bacon, and gave a special nod to Bonnaudet’s classic Quiche Lorraine. Chef de Noüe’s crawfish cake with a white bean salad and bacon jam won the crowd’s tastebuds and votes as the Battle’s best appetizer.
In addition to judging the appetizers, battle guests feasted on hors d’oeuvres inspired by the secret ingredients as they cheered the chefs on.
“It was fun to raise funds for Founders Hall,” said de Noüe. “We would do this every year, if we could."