For the second straight Orange County Chef Fight, a new “Champion Chef of Orange County” has been crowned by split-decision, as Chef Nicola (Nick) Bellazzi of Enne Cucina Italiana in San Clemente knocked off Chef Lindsay Smith- Rosales of Nirvana Grille in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach to capture the title at May’s Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach.
Chef Bellazzi presented four dishes, which exemplified his pan-Italian cooking and which utilized all four base ingredients in three of the four dishes. He began with a cauliflower and sweet potato soup with prosciutto bits and shaved coconut, then offered a Primi pasta dish of Penne pasta with prosciutto, arugula, coconut cream, and truffle oil. Next came his Secondi, a chicken tender wrapped in prosciutto, cooked in coconut milk and topped with cauliflower, then served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes with Gorgonzola and shaved coconut. Finally for dessert, Chef Nick prepared a sweet potato and coconut crème brulee.
The audience tasted and judged Chef Nick’s creations before Chef Smith-Rosales stepped into the kitchen and presented three dishes of her own. Her dishes highlighted her love of organic and seasonal foods, and the flavors of a recent trip to Bali. She began with a cauliflower soup of her own, which she garnished with a crispy pancetta chip, then served her main entrée, a braised and spiced chicken thigh served atop coconut and cilantro rice and topped with a coconut, curry, and cilantro beurre blanc sauce. Finally, for her dessert, she served up a sweet potato custard with caramel and shaved coconut.
After the audience had the opportunity to taste and score Chef Lindsay’s dishes, it was time to reveal the results. Chef Nick took the Creativity category 284 to 258, while Chef Lindsay won the Appearance category 279 to 263. It all came down to Taste, where Chef Nick emerged victorious by a score of 285 to 255, taking home the Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight trophy and the title of Defending Champion Chef of Orange County.
As Defending Champion, Chef Nick will return to defend his title at the next Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight on Sunday, August 21st at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach, facing off against Challenger Chef James Harris, Executive Chef of the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach.
Tickets for the August 21st Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight will go on sale June 21st exclusively online at www.sundaynightcheffights.com.