Flying Stove’s Schauf wins Iron Chef contest

Judge/emcee Mark Davidson with the newly crowned Iron Chef, The Flying Stove's Rob Schauf.

There’s a new Iron Chef in town.

On Saturday morning, I helped judge the 10th annual Iron Chef competition at the Old Town Farmers Market, a competition that pits local chefs against each other in an on-the-spot cookoff, using a “secret ingredient” that’s revealed just before they start.

My cojudges and I —  who included KSN’s morning duo Mark Davidson and Leon Smitherman and local foodie Joe Stumpe — gave the championship wooden spoon to a new competitor — The Flying Stove’s Rob Schauf.

This was Schauf’s first time participating in a local chef-off, and he had some pretty tough competition in Bocconcini’s Nathan Toubia, Tallgrass Country Club’s Ben George, and defending champ Paul Freimuth of The Hyatt. Those three are among Wichita’s most amiable chefs and participate in nearly every cookoff in town.

The judges sampling more delicious food than should be legal before 10 a.m.

The secret ingredient was long beans, and after a shaky start (he appeared frozen by indecision at times), Schauf created a plate that made the crunchy beans the star. He cooked beef rare and topped it with the sauteed beans and served it alongside a potato puree. The judges were fighting for the last bites.

Customers at the Flying Stove rarely see Schauf, who is the culinary brains behind the food truck. He’s always inside, his back to the public, churning out the gourmet food while his friendly, chatty brother Jeff mans the window. He had a big cheering section at the competition, and afterward, The Flying Stove opened on the edge of the Farmers Market to a line 50 people deep.

Here are a few more photos from the event. Read More »

Febres commits a Celeb & Chef Cookoff three-peat

Tanya Tandoc, right, announces Taste & See's Jason Febres the winner of the cookoff.

As I stated earlier, the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, a benefit for the Orpheum that happens each summer at the Corporate Hills Marriott, is one of the must fun fundraisers put on in Wichita.

I was a judge for last night’s event, along with Chef Tanya Tandoc and Beth Bower of the American Institute of Wine and Food, and our job was hard. We had to taste the dishes come up with on the spot in 45 minutes by eight teams of local chefs paired with well-known Wichitans, who worked as their sous chefs.

The experiment Febres conducted in these test tubes was a total success.

Though we didn’t want to be predictable, the dish prepared by Taste & See’s Chef Jason Febres was definitely the best. He’s already won the past two years, so we tried everything we could think of to talk ourselves out of giving him the title again. But we couldn’t. He created a four-course tasting that included a fried egg/scallop/bacon combo and a test tube gazpacho shooter. His flavors were all clean and fabulous.

We also loved the dishes prepared by The Petroleum Club’s Jake Lippincott, who along with partner Kelly Uran of Bank of the West, made a delectable salmon and scallop duo. And the dish by Kevin Derks of Newport Grill included some amazing fried potato and brussels sprouts shavings that I’d love to eat again. His partner was Splurge magazine publisher Jody Klein.

The event also included plentiful samples of dishes from restaurants all over Wichita, including Lotus Leaf Cafe & , The Anchor, Cero’s, Two Brothers BBQ and more.

Here are a few pictures from the event.

Congressman Mike Pompeo, right, was paired with Marshall Roth, the executive chef of Treat America at Beech Activity Center.

Splurge magazine publisher Jody Klein, right, and her partner chef, Kevin Derks of Newport Grill, prepared another of our favorite dishes.

The judges: Tanya Tandoc, Beth Bower and me.

Bocconcini's chef Nathan Toubia with his partner, the WSU Foundation's Elizabeth King. The duo prepared a homemade ravioli.

Event emcees Dick Honeyman and his wife Bonnie Bing.

The Petroleum Club's Jake Lippincott, with his partner Kelly Uran, made a delicious salmon/scallop duo.

Tallgrass Country Club chef Ben George.

Velvet Cream Bakery’s bite of heaven

Kelly Duggan, owner of Velvet Cream Bakery and the winning dessert maker at Saturday's Cocktails & Cookies event.

Saturday night’s Cocktails & Cookies event at the Drury Plaza Broadview once again sent me into a sugar coma, but I regained consciousness in time to gather all the pertinent information about the Chef of the Hour, Kelly Duggan.

Duggan is the owner of Velvet Cream Bakery, and her cookie truffle was the winning dessert at the event, in which local chefs try to create the best dessert using Girl Scout Cookies as one of the ingredients. This is the second year I’ve helped judge at the event, which is a fundraiser for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. It’s a tough job…

Duggan, who started her bakery out of her home two years ago, created an amazing bite of lemon heaven she called a “cookie truffle.”

She used the Lemonades Girl Scout cookies, combining them with cream cheese for a soft center that she encased in white chocolate and topped with a limoncello lemon curd. (She’s posted the recipe on her blog.)

My fellow judges, KSN personality Barbara Baan and Old Chicago East manager Sean DiGiovanni, and I were pretty united in our love of her citrus-y creation, which packed a lot of flavor into a little package.

Duggan also told me that soon she will begin selling her cake pops and cake truffles out of W.O.W. Cakes, a wedding cake business at 2724 N. Amidon.

Cocktails & Cookies had an awesome invention called FanCam, sort of a social media photo booth. Here are me and my date, the lovely Katie Grover.

All the desserts were pretty fabulous, and other entrants included Chef Ben George of Tallgrass Country Club and Adam Courtney of AVI.

You’ll have another chance to sample Duggan’s creations at next month’s Death by Chocolate, an Exploration Place fundraiser scheduled for March 31.

I’m a judge at that one, too, so I’m already prepping for my next sugar coma.

Little bites of restaurant stuff

Check out Bella Vita's new sign. Hopefully, it'll make the restaurant more visible to passers-by.

I’ve been collecting little restaurant details that I thought I’d better share. Consider this entry to be blog tapas, if you will.

1. Bella Vita’s new sign: For a long time, I’ve thought that Bella Vita Bistro, a good but previously hard-to-find restaurant at 120 N. West St., could use better signage. It sits way back off the road in a strip center, and if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. I noticed the other day that the restaurant now has a new sign — a big one, right up next to the street. Good move.

2. Seal Team Six at Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria: Owner Jeremy Horn called today to tell me about a special beer he’s brewed and titled “Seal Team Six,” a nod to the Navy Seals team that captured Osama Bin Laden. It’s a black IPA, which he describes as “dark like a Porter, without the roasted character, and hopped.” (Sounds strong.) He’s brewed only five barrels of it, meaning it should be available for another month. Today, in honor of Veteran’s Day, he’s serving goblets — normally $5.50 — for $4.50.

3. Adrian’s menu update: George Matta from Adrian’s at 2121 N. Rock Road asked me to let people known about some of his new menu items, including a 14 oz. T-bone steak served with roasted potatoes and vegetables; a stuffed pork tenderloin filled with spinach and walnuts and topped with an apple Brandy cranberry sauce; and a grilled chicken Parmesan served with vegetables and spaghetti or roasted potatoes. Matta also says he’s considering adding a Sunday brunch to his offerings.

4. Bonnie’s latest chef classes: Bonnie Aeschliman of Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, 9747 E. 21st St. N., has two more chef classes on her schedule. There are still a few seats left for Tuesday’s session with Tallgrass Country Club chef Ben George, who will be demonstrating “West Coast Fusion” style cooking. And speaking of Bella Vita, the restaurant’s chef, Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder, will be teaching an Asian cooking class on Nov. 29. Both classes start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $45 a person. Make reservations here.

Midwest Beerfest: The most fun I’ve had before 4 p.m.

Beerfest was absolutely packed. This photo is courtesy of my co-judge, Sierra Scott.

Saturday’s Midwest Beerfest was… well, it was kind of amazing.

It was packed — so packed with loopy beer lovers that at points, it was sort of hard to move around.The afternoon had a crazy party vibe. Any time someone would drop and shatter a tasting mug (which was more frequently as the afternoon progressed), the whole crowd would stop, raise their mugs and cheer. At one point, Ronnie “The Danceman” Choy played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and at the appropriate moment, all the attendees stopped and sang along: “SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!”

Our array of wings. Bubba's was No. 3 -- the one with the lime.

I was there in an official capacity — as one of four official judges for the chicken wing contest that organizers added last year. This year, they had us judge blind so we couldn’t be swayed by which restaurant cooked which wing. But apparently we like what we like. My co-judges (Sierra Scott, her main man Harrison Schenk, and Good Life Guy Bower, chose the same winners this year that we chose last year.)

Our overall favorite was again the cinnamon-infused, meaty wing cooked by Bubba of Bubba’s Nekked BBQ. The most creative award went to chef Ben George of Tallgrass Country Club, who cooked a nice Thai wing coated with sesame seeds and cilantro. (He also submitted a wing so horrifically spicy that several judges and crowd members were seen writhing in pain. When I gave him a good talking to later, George laughed and said, “They weren’t that hot last night.”

Sierra and I, moments before Ben George's spicy wing set our mouths on fire.

The judges: Sierra, Guy Bower and me.

Two-time defending chicken champ Bubba Leffew, owner of Bubba's Nekked BBQ. Look behind Bubba and you can see his grandson, Bubba's little sleepy sous chef.

Second annual Midwest Chickenfest

There was all sorts of wing wildness at last year’s Midwest Chickenfest, a new addition to the Midwest Beerfest that offered samples of chicken wings from several local restaurants.

I was a judge, along with local television personality Sierra Scott and “The Good Life Guy” (and Beerfest founder) Guy Bower. Though there were several worthy, spicy competitors, we awarded the “Best of Show” prize to Bubba’s Nekked BBQ, which presented a wing with layers of flavor, including a hint of cinnamon and a nice kick of spice. The Anchor’s kicked up Thai wing, created by then-chef Ben George, earned the people’s choice award.

The event was such a success that they’re doing it all again at this year’s festival, which is Saturday at Century II. I’ll once again be judging, and this year, even more competitors are joining in. Eight different restaurants, including new competitors Larry Bud’s and Tallgrass Country Club (where defending people’s choice champ George now works), will create 11 different wings. Bubba will be back, too. Beer fest attendees can pay $5 to sample the wings and vote for a favorite.

I found this little video gem from last year, which should help us all get in a chicken wing state of mind. I’ll be writing more about Saturday’s Beerfest in Friday’s Go! section.