By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor
Cancer is never a fun topic, but it’s one that we live with on a daily basis. Food is a powerful force and has the ability to bring us together unlike many others, and the 3rd Annual Eat4Life Chef Challenge Event, hosted by the Chris4Life’s Young Professional Board, part of the national non-profit Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation utilized it to do just that. The event, held at Longview Gallery, aimed to provide guests healthy meal options while helping raise funds and awareness for the foundation. The Chefs participating were given lists of approve colon-friendly ingredients in order to create their dishes; guests were to taste each dish and vote for their favorite. Participating Chefs included defending champion (2 years in a row!) Scott Drewno of The Source, Enrique Ayala of Scion, Matt Baker of City Perch Kitchen and Bar, Charlos Gonzalez of Taco Bamba, Erick Jiron of Crios Modern Mexican, Patrick Robinson of Table DC and Tyler Scholfield of NaiNai’s Noodle and Dumpling Bar.
My first dish of the evening was the Year of the Rabbit vegetable dumplings by Chef Scholfield, featuring spinach water, bok choy, and shitake mushrooms. The dumpling was cooked nicely and accented by a soy sauce and a touch of tabasco.
Next up was the Veracruz Grilled Chicken Tostada with pinto beans, asparagus, red cabbage slaw, and cucumber-avocado yogurt from Chef Gonzalez. The chicken was very juicy and accented well by the Tostada’s accompaniments.
Chef Baker featured a spin on Asian-inspired soup complete with a poached egg. The flavors of the soup paired beautifully with the egg once it was broken open.
Chef Jiron’s dish was not only colon-friendly, but vegan and gluten-free as well and was the only Chef who prepared a dessert. He featured a chocolate chia pudding with chipotle almonds and agave strawberries.
Chef Ayala featured two dishes – an endive and pistachio salad with mandarin orange vinaigrette and salmon with a bean mix. The salmon was prepared beautifully – not too dry and the endive salad was also delicious.
Chef Robinson featured a farro bean salad, which was light and refreshing and would make a great dish for a spring picnic.
Chef Drewno featured a crostini with herring soaked in tea, then once cold, chopped and mixed with mayonnaise, horseradish, scallions, and garlic. I loved the smokiness of the fish paired with the buttery crostini and I can see why he was the winner two years in a row! This dish earned my vote for favorite of the night.
However, it was Chef Gonzalez of Taco Bamba who prevailed, with his Chicken Tostada beating all the other dishes of the night, with Chef Drewno as the runner-up. Raising money to beat colon cancer, eating delicious, healthy food and getting to meet area Chefs? I’d say we were all winners that night.