Island Eating: Celebrity Chef Cooking Competition

by Chris on May 15, 2011

Getting up close and personal watching a celebrity chef cooking competition at the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience.

celebrity chef cooking competition

By Kelly Goodman, Contributing Writer

If you like watching chefs at work (and the popularity of cooking competitions on TV show that many do), then you’d love the Food Fight event at the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience.  Two teams, each made up of visiting luminaries and local favorites, competed on the beach to see who could make the best seafood soup, as well as flexing their culinary muscles in knife skills, blind taste testing and culinary trivia.  It was like Top Chef: Beach Edition, hosted by Dannielle Kyrillos who does serve as a judge on Top Chef Just Desserts.

celebrity chef cooking competition

The teams were divided into Boys vs. Girls teams. On the girls side, Top Chef favorite Tiffany Derry joined Liza Shaw of A16 in San Francisco and Jennifer Litwin of Oceana Restaurant in St. Thomas. 

celebrity chef cooking competition

The boys team was made up of Roberto Treviño from Puerto Rico’s Budatai, local favorite Leslie Gumbs of Theo’s Restaurant and NYC chef Michael Ferraro of Delicatessen and macbar.

I loved watching how the chef’s attacked a challenge under pressure.  Each side had some prior competition experience, with Tiffany’s Top Chef days and Roberto’s Iron Chef participation.  You could see the creativity wheels churning, as each chef chose what ingredients to use and as team split decisions were made.  I found myself wandering back and forth along the beach between the teams, comparing their working styles.

celebrity chef cooking competition

The girl’s team talked constantly, collectively preparing their next move as they worked.  They were serious and lighthearted at the same time, and looked to Tiffany to plan strategy.  The guy’s team, however, seemed to divide into individual roles. The men kept a tight lip, with little chatter.

celebrity chef cooking competition

Drama arose when the girl’s couldn’t get their beach fire lit, and there were seafood battles as well. Tiffany took to a conch shell like it had done her wrong (and it had been her arch enemy in her season of Top Chef) and Liza had a spiny lobster that wasn’t ready to succumb to its fate without a fight.

celebrity chef cooking competition

The food challenges were comical, entertaining and impressive, especially when Chef Treviño accurately guessed A1 steak sauce in a blind tasting. For me the fun was in standing on the beach by the ocean and watching some masters do what they do best: Cook.

celebrity chef cooking competition

In the end, you’ll only get a small bite of what each team prepared, so don’t go for a meal  (unless you win the lucky raffle to be one of the judges.)  But if you love to cook or are an armchair chef, this event will completely enthrall you. Tickets cost xxx

Plus, in the end, you get to watch the sunset on the beach in St. Croix.  That definitely does not suck.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

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