Wednesday, February 16, 2011

S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition

While we didn't win a seat on the judging panel of AFChef Comp, we were still honoured to be invited to The Calphalon Culinary Center last week to partake in this exclusive foodie event and to get a peek at what really goes on in the kitchen of a fast-paced, high-pressure cooking competition. We can definitely assure you that this was no Hell's Kitchen nor was Gordan Ramsey there to bark out orders - the students were calm and confident!

All guests got a chance to sip S. Pellegrino and sample the dishes. Secretly I was a tad bit relieved that I wasn't on that judging panel afterall because EVERYTHING looked and tasted absolutely delicious! I'm sure the judges had a hard time before awarding Jean-Francois Daigle (The George Brown Chef’s School in Toronto) the coveted title and the rare chance to compete at the Finals Competition next month in Napa Valley, CA.

Here is the winning signature recipe adapted for the home chef...

Honey Seared Bison Tenderloin with Apple Parsnip Puree
Creamy apple parsnip puree is the base for the decadent richness of bison and adds a delicate sweetness to this recipe. A chunky vegetable sauce finishes the dish, along with a few asparagus spears for added colour.
  • 2 cups (500 mL) beef broth
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) dry red wine
  • 1 cup (250 mL) each diced carrots and onion
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) diced celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) whole black peppercorns
  • 1 buffalo or beef tenderloin, about 2 lbs/1 kg, cut into 8 equal portions
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil or garlic oil
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp/2 mL dried thyme leaves

Apple Parsnip Puree:

  • 1 lb (500 g) parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb (500 g) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) 35% whipping cream, hot
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • Salt and white pepper

In pot of boiling water cook parsnips, covered for 15 minutes or until tender. Add apples, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and puree in a food processor until smooth. Whisk in cream and mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper; keep warm.

Meanwhile, in saucepan bring stock, wine, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves and peppercorns to a boil and simmer until reduced to 2-1/2 cups (625 mL). Remove bay leaves and discard.

Sprinkle tenderloin with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet, in batches sear both sides of the tenderloin and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with thyme. Roast in 425 F (220C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reaches 145 F (63 C) for medium-rare.

Spoon apple parsnip puree in centre of plate and top with tenderloin and spoon vegetable sauce around plate.

Makes 8 servings. ENJOY!

1 comment:

  1. Press Release - March 24, 2011

    As a follow up to the Canadian regional competition, Jean-François Daigle from the George Brown Chef’s School competed in The S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition finals in Napa Valley. He won the Mystery Basket Competition along with a $3,000 cash prize! It’s the first time a Canadian finalist has won the Mystery Basket competition since the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition began in 2002.

    For the Mystery Basket Competition, each finalist received a basket of mystery ingredients. They’re then given two hours to prepare and present an entrée. This year’s surprise ingredient was pork loin. Jean-François prepared an herb roasted rack of pork served with a natural pork jus, roasted vegetable plin (pasta ravioli), caramelized onion and apple compote.

    Congrats Jean-François!

    For more info please visit