Local chefs preparing for eggplant battle at Douglas County Fair
Last year, Rick Martin beat out fellow gastronomic greats Rafael and Kate Gonzales of Global Café in the Douglas County Fair’s annual Chefs Challenge.
On Wednesday, the Limestone Pizza owner/executive chef will return to the fairground showdown not as a competitor but as a “culinary interpreter” a la Ted Allen in Food Network’s “Chopped.”
During the event, which is slated for 5 to 7:30 p.m., Martin will chat with competing chefs — Brad Brown, of the Bird Dog Bar in the Oread, Simon Bates of the Burger Stand, and Vaughn Good of Hank Charcuterie — about their culinary techniques, offering up tips on integrating seasonal, local ingredients in everyday meals.
As in years past, Wednesday’s competition — which is organized by Master Food Volunteers and Master Gardeners, both with the Douglas County Extension office — will spotlight a particular ingredient.
This year's star ingredient is eggplant, and chefs will use it, as well as other foods cultivated from local farms and school gardens, to create simple, fast dishes that anyone might recreate easily at home. And as in years past, any audience member whose taste buds need convincing can munch on samples.
It’s all about getting people excited about foods grown or produced right here in Douglas County, says Elizabeth Stewart, an at-large appointee of the Douglas County Food Policy Council, which sponsors the event.
“We’re really trying to appeal to a wide audience, ranging from your foodies to your hardcore cooks to busy families that don’t have a lot of time,” says Stewart, who hopes folks will be inspired to revisit the “misunderstood and misaligned” eggplant. There’s more to it than just eggplant Parmesan, she says.
With help from city mayors of Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton, competitors' dishes will be judged on taste, presentation, creativity and the all-important “applause-o-meter” from the audience.
The winner gets bragging rights and a plaque to hang in their restaurant, though all participating chefs will share their recipes from the event online, Stewart says.
You can stop by the Douglas County Fair’s fifth annual Chefs Challenge at 5 p.m. Wednesday south of the backdrop in the shelter area of the fairgrounds.
Tasting notes: Organic wines at the Oread, Sicilian wines at Genovese and the Elvis Burger
There are two wine dinners next week in Lawrence. They’re both happening the same night, though, so you’ll have to choose — organic or Sicilian? Plus, Elvis (Burger) lives.
Organic Wines of the World is the title of the Oread’s next quarterly wine dinner, planned Thursday at the hotel’s Terrace on Fifth.
The reception — featuring an appetizer of poached fig with goat cheese and prosciutto paired with Italian wine — begins at 6:30 p.m. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. and features bass, chicken, duck and steak courses with wines from North and South Americas and France. The planned dessert is coffee crepes suzette with coffee from Lawrence’s J&S Coffee Co.
Cost is $65 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Kristyn Maloney at 830-3945 or Kristyn@oliviacollection.com.
Sicilian food and wine will highlight Genovese’s August wine dinner, set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the restaurant. Cost is $48 per person, and reservations should be made by calling 842-0300.
The four featured wines come from Sicily’s Fuedo Arancio Winery and include grillo and Nero d’Avola. Chef Armando’s planned menu features native Sicilian foods such as tuna, bottarga (salted, pressed and dried fish roe), caponata and lamb.
Based on the winery’s website, which touts its commitment to green growing and winemaking principles, the place looks breathtakingly beautiful. If you can’t tele-transport (which sadly you can’t, last I checked), maybe drinking wine from the place is second-best!
The Elvis Burger is back in the building at Burger Stand, an occasional special that seems far-out enough it's worth mentioning. This burger has everything Elvis would have wanted: creamy peanut butter, banana puree and — if you order it Vegas style — bacon.
Chris Hoffman, general manager at Burger Stand, says the special is in conjunction with the month Elvis died — "or went into hiding ... whatever you believe!"
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.
Burger Stand lands on another nationwide ‘best burger’ list
Lawrence isn’t one of the 21 big cities the website Thrillist usually writes about, but somebody on their staff has been here — and been very impressed with one of our burgers.
The Burger Stand’s “Hamburg Burger” (which I'm pretty sure is one of their inventive specials, but not on the regular daily menu) made Thrillist’s list of “the 33 best burgers in the entire country,” published this week. Here’s what they said:
Originally started in the kitchen of an Irish pub in 2009, the burger stand has reached cult status in and around the college town thanks to their custom blend of tenderloin, strip steak, and ribeye; their housemade sauces (cherry pepper or chipotle cocoa ketchup, whole grain guinness mustard); and their duck fat fries. If you're feeling bold (and hell, you're in Kansas, why wouldn't you be?!?), get the Hamburg burger -- a German take with braised red cabbage, whole grain mustard, and homemade pickle relish.
Check out the Hamburg and the other 32 burgers — and find a printable PDF checklist if you have a wild hair to travel around the country and try them all — here. Burger Stand has been voted Lawrence's best burger three years running, and also got a shout out on Zagat's "best burgers in 25 cities" list earlier this year.
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @KCSSara. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.