As an advisory board member for Pikes Peak Urban Gardens
, I helped organize and judge the chef's competition at last weekend's Garlic Fest
at Summerland Gardens
This year, Kevin Campbell
of Full Circle Cuisine
(the defending champion
) and Nate Dirnberger
of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
were joined by a third competitor, David McDonough
of Adam's Mountain Café
Each team was allowed a helper as well. Campbell called on fellow chef Mark Henry
from the Meat Locker.
McDonough tapped café pastry chef Hilary McCandless Beard
. And Dirnberger brought along some of his talented zoo staff for support, Andrew Warren
(who cooked with him during the comp) and Justin Oxford
(who helped pick ingredients from PPUG's Harlan Wolfe Ranch beforehand).
TAPAteria and Pizzeria Rustica's Dave Brackett
and McCabe's Greg Howard
joined me as judges.
All the competitors performed extremely well, and our judges' decision for best in show wasn't an easy one to make.
The Adam's crew's presentation and treatment of local veggies was simply tremendous, mirroring a lot of what the café has become known for. Henry and Campbell hit deep, soul-food notes with rich, heavy meat treatments — challenge ingredients were duck, pheasant sausage and pork loin — paired with brilliant garnishes.
But ultimately, we awarded Dirnberger and company the win for an elegant, colorful plate with very nuanced but potent flavors, best highlighting the challenge ingredients as well as the mandatory garlic component.
Below, you can view each dish prepared (Campbell and Henry opted to do three courses in the allotted time) with descriptions provided by the chefs. Plus some other shots from the comp.