San Antonio CC’s Executive Chef Nelson Millán and Austin CC’s Executive Sous Chef, Eva Barrios, won the competition at the 11th annual Chef to Chef Conference in New Orleans.
On March 11th, 2019, attendees of the 2019 Chef to Chef Conference in New Orleans gathered to watch four teams of talented club chefs race the clock to create dazzling dishes using a mystery basket of ingredients. The Golf Channel was also on hand for the event, with hosts Kira Kazantsev (Miss America 2015) and Jerry Schreck (Executive Chef of Merion Golf Club and National Program Coordinator for the Chef to Chef Conference) providing running commentary and interviewing the contestants and judges throughout the competition.
Participants in the Iron Chef Cookoff included:
- Tyler Dudley, Daniel Island Club (Charleston, S.C.) and Joe Strickland, Bulls Bay Golf Club (Awendaw, S.C.)
- Eva Barrios, Austin (Texas) Country Club and Nelson Millán, San Antonio (Texas) Country Club
- David Daddezio, Vicmead Hunt Club (Wilmington, Del.) and Greg Garbacz, Sunnybrook Golf Club (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.)
- Michael Ponzio, Medinah (Ill.) Country Club and John Beck, Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club
After three exciting rounds, Barrios and Millán—who presented on guest-chef programs the following day, alongside Richard Jallet, Executive Chef of Baltimore Country Club—emerged as the winners, earning a Vitamix blender in the process.
The first dish Millán and Barrios prepared in their semi-final faceoff with Dudley and Strickland was a Szechuan-dusted duck breast, paired with a Cajun fried rice made with crawfish, swiss chard and eggs. Beneath it all was a spiced beet puree.
The second dish prepared by “Team Texas” for the finals competition vs. Ponzio and Beck (who had defeated Daddezio and Garbacz in their semi-final faceoff) was a Cajun-themed South African U8 prawn seasoned with curry power, paired with a red curry sauce and Thai-style grits made with tomato and basil.
Each dish was judged by a select team of taste testers, including: Marshall Violante, Executive Chef of the Saddle and Cycle Club of Chicago; Nick Barrington, Executive Chef of East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, and James Smith, a member of the Chef to Chef Conference event team.
“I have known Chef Millán for a while, but we have never had the pleasure of working together as a team until we were in New Orleans,” says Barrios. “The competition went very smoothly and it felt like we knew exactly what the other was thinking, based on flavors and presentation. It felt natural, and it was even more fun in the second round.”
Added Millán: “We went into it trusting our instincts and not holding back. When we won, Chef Barrios froze. I congratulated her, the other team congratulated her, and she was just frozen. Finally, when they presented her with the Vitamix, she unfroze, looked me in the eye and said in shock, ‘How cool is that?’”
For finishing as the runners-up, Ponzio and Beck earned a gift card from Spiceology, one of the Conference’s newest sponsors.
After the competition, attendees enjoyed an exclusive pop-up dining event at New Orleans’ Pythian Market. (A full report on all of the New Orleans presentations can be found in the April 2019 issue of Club + Resort Business.)The 12th Annual Chef to Chef Conference will be held March 1-3, 2020 in Charlotte, N.C. Visit www.Chef toChefConference.com later this year for registration information and other details about the 2020 Conference as they are announced.