"Blazing Pans" Mountain Chef Cook-off
With an enthusiastic crowd cheering on their favorites, local chefs Mark Estee and John Tesar squared off against each other in the “Blazing Pans” Mountain Chef Cook-off.Held as a part of the Autumn Food & Wine Festival at the Resort at Squaw Creek over the weekend, the Blazing Pans cook-off showcased the creativity and culinary skills of two of the area’s finest chefs.Mark Estee, owner and executive chef of Moody’s Bistro and Lounge in Truckee, and John Tesar, executive chef of Wild Goose in Tahoe Vista, had less than an hour to prepare as many dishes as they could with the main ingredient of the day-lamb shoulder and ribs-which were described as very difficult cuts of meat to work with.Chefs Pilar Sanchez and Lars Kronmark were assigned the tough job of tasting each of the dishes and commenting on the flavors and presentation to the jealous crowd that stood and applauded as each new dish came forward.Pilar Sanchez is a former chef de cuisine for Meadowood Resort Napa Valley and Executive Chef for the restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. She is currently working on a PBS series, “Chefs of the Napa Valley.”Lars Kronmark is a chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, and has also the title at the California Culinary Academy for 14 years.Despite the time constraints, Tesar was able to prepare five distinct dishes including a lamb stir-fry with braised greens flavored with hoisin, fish sauce and ginger, that Sanchez and Kronmark rated as one of their favorites.Estee countered with seven of his own dishes, including a lamb tartar with scallion oil and microgreens that impressed the judges, as well as audience members.Both chefs had access to a table filled with kitchen staples and exotic produce from which to create their dishes, much of which went unused and was taken home by audience members inspired by the creativity of Tesar and Estee.In the end, Estee was declared the winner of the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-off. According to judge Pilar Sanchez, Estee won mainly due to the number of dishes he created in the limited time frame.”I feel lucky to be here,” Estee said of his victory, “and being on stage with John was a lot of fun… But I am glad I won.”Tesar didn’t seem to mind losing to Estee and called the event “tremendous fun,” adding, “Mark is always a great competitor.”Following the competition, audience members were invited to sample all of the dishes the two chefs had prepared. Lisa Statti, who comes up from the Bay Area for the Autumn Food & Wine Festival every year, expressed her satisfaction with the event, saying, “Now I’m happy, but I was a little worried I wasn’t going to get to eat anything.”
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