6 chefs duke it out in culinary combat - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

6 chefs duke it out in culinary combat

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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Six Memphis chefs from six downtown restaurants put it all on the plate last weekend in the inaugural Battledish competition, an international cooking competition.

Memphis was chosen as one of 13 cities in the United States and a candidate to participate in the culinary competitions.

MORE: Battledish Memphis winners

It was a battle for bragging rights.

MORE: 'Battledish' pits 6 Downtown Memphis chefs

More than 200 people went from restaurant to restaurant sampling food and drinks along the way.

"I'm really happy to see people get to make something off of their menu sometimes do something a little bit different and compete and have a good time doing it," said Thomas Robinson of EatLocalMemphis.Org.

I was asked to be one of the judges. I sampled the dishes with Robinson who writes the popular food blog Eat Local Memphis, and Sophorn Kuoy, a talented food photographer who posts on her blog Norococo.

The first stop Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe and Honky Tonk on Beale Street for a German version of pizza.

A crisp flatbread, with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions.

You had me at bacon.

The competition is organized by Dishcrawl Memphis, a new group in town organizing food and drink tours of different restaurants.

"I think this is going to be great for Memphis."
Next stop is Lunchbox Eats. The crowds enjoyed the next dish.

"We're ready for battle," Kaia Brewer, owner of Lunchbox Eats, who made a chili in a cornbread cup to show off her restaurant. She's says the competition is good for business.

"It gives us an outlet for other customers that maybe we haven't had before to come walk through our doors with is always important," Brewer said.

Just finished at Lunchbox Eats. They're known for their sandwiches here. But for this Dishcrawl they're making a short rib chili. It was really good, just the right amount of spice. Already two dishes down but we're pretty full a lot more to go. We're going to head over toward Main street.

Rizzo's Diner just off South Main is a popular stop. Chef Michael Patrick prepared an inventive take on southern flavors, duck confit wrapped in grits.

Downtown newcomer Belle Diner served up a comfort food classic, braised short ribs, served over grit cake topped with fried onions.

Chef Sam Miller of Tamp and Tap, a pretty new restaurant in town, was also part of Saturday's competition.

"It's pretty exciting, something new to Memphis and maybe if everybody gets involved we can keep doing it and get bigger and bigger," Chef Miller said of Dishcrawl and Battledish.

Chef Miller's plate almost looked too good to eat, a beautiful presentation. He calls it an autumn napoleon, with more than a half dozen ingredients on the plate complimenting each other.

Can't eat this one with out snapping a picture first.     

All right, we're here at restaurant number 6. It's been a long day of trying some of the best food downtown. We're at Automatic Slims. They've got a sesame encrusted ahi tuna dish.

The fish is cooked perfectly, accompanied by four sauces.

Sophorn snapped another photo she sees something in each of the plates we've sampled.

"For me I kind of think of them as visually beautiful and if they're photogenic you know it makes it look tastier that way," Kuoy said. Presentation is a really big part of it so I was impressed."
It's the first Battledish competition here in Memphis. The winning chefs from around the world go on to an international competition and a chance to sample something new and confirm Memphis' place on the culinary map.

"We have our own cuisine in Memphis, which is really unique to The South," Robinson said. "I think southern food is getting more and more popular. So I think it really makes sense, and I think it's nice for us to be recognized as the food capital that I think we are."

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