June 6, 2011
Today I was in the kitchen at Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School, the first day cooking for my summer class, Food Production III. I’ll write a separate post about that…stressful, but ended up okay!
While I was there, I noticed Chef Cindy Malik (known to some students as Chef East, as she got married last semester) and her hubby chatting with some of the other chefs. She was in street clothes — I hardly ever see her out of chef whites — but she meant business.
She’s playing two roles this week, both as lead instructor at the culinary school and a competitor in tomorrow’s Diamond Chef final, hosted by the same school. She won the preliminaries on March 2 against a bevy of local heavyweights to compete against last year’s Diamond Chef winner, Chef Daniel Capello of the Chenal Country Club.
I’m sure it’s an awkward balance for her this week. She has worked very hard to practice, study, learn new techniques and memorize all kinds of possibilities for tomorrow’s black-box style competition (think Chopped on Food Network). Meanwhile, all her colleagues are putting together the actual event, including the secret ingredients that she can’t know anything about.
Chef Malik, from what I overheard, was informing the others about what she’d be bringing, since the competitors are allowed to bring some of their own equipment and product. After she left, the others whipped back into action, packing up all the pantry ingredients and equipment that the two competitors will have available during the competition, as well as the top-secret mystery baskets.
The Diamond Chef competition, a fundraiser for the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 7), with a reception at 6 p.m. and program at 7. Food fans can purchase tickets for $150 and enjoy a three course dinner — not the ones prepared by the competing chefs, but by the school’s other professionals and students — and watch the two competitors sweat and chop it out.
I was sick and wasn’t able to attend last year, so I am totally excited to be going tomorrow. I’m so excited, in fact, that I was willing to send my husband and kids ahead on our vacation to Charleston, S.C. without me, and I’m flying out Wednesday morning to meet them.
The school has me scheduled to help in the kitchen, but if I’m at all able, I hope to live-blog the event here and on Twitter as I did the Diamond Chef preliminaries. If you’re a Twitter bird, follow me at @ARFoodie. If nothing else, I’ll send some awesome behind-the-scenes photos of food and frenzy.
June 7, 2011
Diamond Chef Arkansas – Finale
Statehouse Convention Center
6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Program
Table of 10 – $1,500
Individual Tickets – $150
For tickets, contact Yvette Henton at (501) 812-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The conclusion of the ultimate culinary competition will unfold on center stage. Chefs will have 60 minutes to prepare a three course meal for judging that features a mystery ingredient revealed just before the clock starts. Chefs are judged on creativity, taste, presentation and technical skills. Guests are treated to a three course meal including wine.
Diamond Chef Arkansas is presented by Pulaski Technical College Foundation.