Official Chef Challenge - Giving Chefs a New Culinary Challenge

Back in January, Chris got an email inviting us to a Chef Challenge event taking place at the Lincklaen House in Cazenovia. The premise was simple: a mystery box of produce and meat from local farms was being delivered to the restaurant and the chef and his team were challenged to create a 4+ course dinner experience. Being avid fans of Chopped on the Food Network, we were intrigued to experience this for ourselves.

Our first Chef Challenge dinner was a truly memorable experience. We were introduced to the culinary creations of Chance Bear (who is now an owner of The Ridge in Chittenango), met people involved in the food community of Central New York, and got to learn a little more about some of the farmers and artisans in our area. Watching the chefs preparing the courses in the kitchen and hearing them explain their thought process behind each dish made the evening even more exciting. 

A lot has changed since January! As our blog has evolved, so has the Chef Challenge experience. We have attended many of these events and each one has surpassed the other in creativity and flavor. Chef Challenge owners Josh Rhoades and Ashley Murray bring their passion for local foods and sustainability to each dinner and travel extensively around Central New York to select the freshest produce to highlight during the meals. Chris and I love learning about new farmers and artisans in the area and seeing some of our favorite chefs pushed to their culinary limits. By keeping the events limited to 35-55 people, they are a fantastic way to meet new friends. The social hour and family style seating give ample opportunity to strike up conversations with people who obviously love food and enjoy talking about it. It is also a wonderful opportunity to visit restaurants when they aren't crowded and try new foods without the overwhelming feeling of having to select courses off an extensive menu. 

The events now host guest speakers to inform and enlighten guests about various charities and environmental concerns in our area. The most recent Chef Challenge at Mirabeau in Skaneateles featured Kathleen Stress, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Central New York, and $5.00 from each ticket sold was donated to the charity. An evening where you can expand your culinary palette and give back to your community is always a win in my book.

Clearly, our first Chef Challenge was not our last. We regularly attend these events and would love for you to join us. Check out www.officialchefchallenge.com for more information.

Here are some of our favorite dishes from the various events we attended over the last 8 months.  

Katharine Johnson