Culinary Fight Club Chicago serves up delicious food + fun
On a recent Monday evening, those passing near the Hard Rock Cafe must have been intrigued by the spectacle and sensory overload there: You couldn’t miss the aroma of four smokers going and teams of chefs prepping to feed a hundred new friends. Luckily for me, I had a ticket to this event: Culinary Fight Club!
Starting with the pantry challenge (see video below) chefs grab every ingredient they’ll need to cook for a hundred or so friends.
Each fight club is about 60 minutes long, and you can sip beverages, listen to music and watch the 4-5 chefs in action. Our chefs were Kristina Garrbo of Rockin Rodizio (and Palatine’s Chicago Culinary Kitchen, which I must try!), Dylan Lipe of The Budlong Hot Chicken, Hipolito Sanchez of Slow Motion For Meat, and Peter McCarthy of BBQ’d Productions. I attended a barbecue challenge, so it took two hours to smoke the meats, fish and seafood as well as chop/season/grill/sear/flambé/cook it all.
Then the clock is set and chefs and their crews start readying their ingredients:
Host Hard Rock Cafe provided noshes to keep us happy while we had some delicious seasonal beers and played blackjack provided by U.S. Poker and Casino Parties (not for money, which means I won, of course!).
The fabulous addition to Culinary Fight Club is that they exclusively give back to the 501(c) (3) non-profit organization Fight2Feed, which partners top restaurants with food trucks to provide service and support to hungry men, women and children in our communities.
The excitement comes down to final countdown and plate prep for the judges – and it’s just as fraught as you’d imagine. The amazing cooking smells and frantic work has finally come down to this!
The judges were local celebrated foodies: Mike Haracz, Culinary Innovation at McDonald’s, Rick Tramonto, a James Beard award-winning chef, and Phil Wingo, Porkmania and Mr. Barbecue. I wouldn’t want their job of deciding—except to try all of the food!
We do get sample portions (until it’s gone!) and each chef brought their A game to the table. My only regret is not getting more!
If you didn’t make it out to a recent Culinary Fight Club, they go on monthly—and they’re all over the United States! Whether your pleasure is tacos, blended burgers, pork, chocolate, barbecue, steak, seafood… the list goes on!
The next Culinary Fight Club Chicago one is July 17 and features steak. I’m already drooling. See you there?