EV chefs face off in culinary competition - East Valley Tribune: Dining

EV chefs face off in culinary competition

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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Knives in hand, two East Valley chefs face off August 27 in a culinary competition to win the votes and taste buds of local diners. Calling themselves “Crouching Tiger” and “Transylvanian Garlic Keeper,” reining champion John Wong of Mesa’s Asia restaurant and his challenger Romeo Taus of Romeo’s Euro Café in Gilbert go head-to-head in the second Chef Off competition.

Started last month to generate excitement about local eateries, Chef Off is a way for East Valley chefs to strut their stuff in front of colleagues and customers. Each competition is at a different restaurant. Romeo Taus, who hosts this month’s competition at his Gilbert café, said it’s ultimately a mutual admiration society.

“There’s a bunch of chefs from the East Valley who would like to spend time in someone else’s kitchen and we’re trying to outdo each other,” said Taus. “The way it works is we pick three wines, then we create three dishes we feel will really pair very well with each wine.”

This month’s wines include a Pinot Noir from Galante, a French wine and an Australian Shiraz from Forefathers. Beyond that, there are no rules regarding ingredients like you’d find on “Iron Chef” or “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“We pick whatever ingredients we want,” said Taus, who, along with Wong, will begin cooking dishes several hours before the event begins. “This is more of trying to channel our creative juices while at the same time staying within the message of our restaurants.”

“I don’t know what John is presenting and he doesn’t know what I’m presenting. But because we’ll have 50 to 60 people, it will be very hard for us to change (that night),” said Taus.

Each chef will plate three courses for the guests, who score on a written ballot the individual dishes as well as overall presentation. The dessert is provided by the host restaurant and is not judged.

Tickets for Monday’s Chef Off are $50 (plus gratuity) and include three wines, six plates and dessert, which Taus said would probably involve chocolate. There are about 20 spots left. You can make reservations by calling (480) 962-4224.

The winner will compete in September against Chef Jared Lupin at his Down Under Winery and Bistro in Gilbert.

“Our intention is let our community know about the independence of chef-driven restaurants,” Taus said. “We have to compete with chains and that is hard. Hopefully the community will want to support us.”

DETAILS >> 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27. Romeo’s Euro Cafe, 207 N. Gilbert Road. $50 for three wines, a six course dinner and dessert. (480) 962-4224 or http://www.eurocafe.com.

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