Heading into the Final Bouts of Chef vs. Chef


“Are you ready to rumble???!!!!”  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are reaching maximum decibels at Max’s Harvest in Delray Beach. Every Wednesday night, the audience stands shoulder to shoulder and the judges take their rink-side seats to witness culinary goliaths going head to head during the Chef vs. Chef competition. Each of the Quarter-Final battles, accented with pumping theme music and a killer crowd, yields yet another winner. Those winners advance to the Semi-Finals, which are Sept. 9 and Sept. 16. The Final bout is Sept. 23, when the Grand Prize winner will be named. For 10 weeks, Chef vs. Chef has invited 16 top area chefs to compete in the heated environment of Max’s Harvest kitchen to create dishes with three “mystery” ingredients from local food suppliers and farms. The meals are prepared in full view of an audience of cheering fans, who capture the action on their smartphones and chant for their warrior in battle. The snarky, funny, yet qualified panel of judges make up some of the food industry’s most colorful personalities, who weigh-in with not only sighs and exclamation of delight, but also “biting” commentary on the entrees. In August, the competition entered the Quarter Finals and in September, the best of the best head into the kitchen for the ultimate in bragging rights. The event series benefits the Naoma Donnelley Haggin Boys & Girls Club in Delray Beach. For a list of the past winners from Weeks 7-10, please see the “Chef Versus Chef Catch-Up” sidebar. What’s Next – The Final Rounds of September  With each Chef vs. Chef event, the list of winners grew larger. Sixteen battles yielded eight winners. Now it’s time for the list to shrink, and the culling process begins in September. Watching the chefs create multi-course meals under timed conditions with unusual ingredients, ranging from frog legs and avocado to uni and spiny lobster, has proven to be an unbeatable combination at Max’s Harvest. “The energy and excitement of Chef vs. Chef is beyond belief,” said Dennis Max, established South Florida restaurateur and partner of Max’s Harvest. “The creativity and ingenuity behind the dishes that the chefs created has been astounding.” Chef vs. Chef has become so popular that the event will live on when Florida’s top bartenders brawl this fall during a bracket-style bartending competition, “Bar Brawls,” hosted by Max’s Social House (sohodelray.com). The 11-week single elimination competition, with 24 of the best bartenders from Stuart to Ft. Lauderdale, kicks off on Sept. 30 and continues every Wednesday through the finals on Dec. 16. Admission will be $10 and will benefit Richard David Kaan Melanoma Foundation. A draw party will be held for Bar Brawls at Max’s Harvest at 8 p.m. on the night of the finals for Chef vs. Chef. Bar Brawls, sponsored by RNDC, will start each Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. at Max’s Social House (SoHo), 116 NE 6th Avenue, Delray Beach. In September, Meet the Grand Prize Winner!  Foodies, reality TV lovers, and people who just love being around a high-energy crowd are invited to experience Chef vs. Chef before it ends for this season. Come and enjoy seeing the area’s most talented chefs “meet their match” with sweat, flames, rock ‘n roll, screaming fans and general bedlam. “The best stuff is normally at the end,” said Max’s Harvest Executive Chef and event MC Eric Baker. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we guarantee it will be fun.” If You Go:  When: 9:00 p.m., Wednesdays through Sept. 23 Where: Max’s Harvest, 169 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444; www.maxsharvest.com; 561-381-9970 Cost: $10 donation includes one complimentary beer, wine or cocktail. Food and drinks available at Happy Hour prices Chef Versus Chef Catch-Up  Week 7, July 29: Kelley Randall, The Office vs. Bruce Feingold, Dada’s. Winner: Bruce Feingold’s winning courses featured tempura-fried Uni served on sriracha aioli spiked with fish sauce; a long bean salad with charred grapefruit and toasted macadamia nuts; mafaldine pasta in a butter, uni sauce topped with pancetta and fresh herbs. Week 8, August 5: Chris Miracolo, S3 vs. Blake Malatesta, 50 Ocean. Winner: Chris Miracolo took home the winner’s title with potato-crusted frog legs served with a sweet corn “jus” and an avocado okra puree; cornmeal-crusted boneless frog legs, avocado and okra with a sweet and spicy sriracha-based sauce; and coconut curry stewed frog legs with mango, fresh basil and fried okra. Week 9, August 12: Quarterfinals Round 1– Adam Brown, The Cooper vs. Jimmy Strine, Café Boulud. Winner: Jimmy Strine won a tough match with a lobster crudo with orange supremes, fennel fronds, deep-fried fennel and “popped” sorghum; beer-battered lobster with dried buttermilk in a black garlic/brown butter emulsion; grilled lobster and tostones on a black garlic and grilled fingerling potato purée. His final entrée was a “banana split” made with fried plantains, vanilla ice cream and a jalapeño-chocolate ganache. Week 10, August 19: Quarterfinals Round 2 – Bill Estis, Kapow Noodle Bar vs. Victor Meneses, El Camino. Winner: Victor Meneses emerged victorious with his pork and fig agnolotti; pork terrine with fennel tapenade, fig jam and julienned truffle; and a dessert of bread pudding with black truffle ice cream and caramelized figs.