A Friendly Battle of ORC Chefs
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Manager
“In this corner, we have Chef Eric Andreu, Islander Sushi Chef de Cuisine, and in this corner…” This is how Beverage Director Sean Carroll introduced the “competitors” from last week’s Battle of the Chefs Specialty Dinner. A night that centered around competition, was also brimming with immense teamwork as six Ocean Reef chefs worked together to produce a six-course meal for one of the largest Specialty Dinners this season has seen thus far.
Lead by Carroll and Chef Shelby Confer, Members were served small-plate meals expertly paired with unique beverages. Participating chefs included Eric Andreu (Islander Sushi Chef de Cuisine), Kareem Anguin (Islander Chef de Cuisine), Jevon Smith (Town Hall Waterside Sous Chef), Philippe Reynaud (Senior Director of Culinary), Shelby Confer (CH Prime Chef de Cuisine), and Santiago Puga (Executive Pasty Chef). Each was given the opportunity to create a dish of their choosing that showcased the individuality of their Reef kitchens.
“We really wanted to elevate Members’ senses during this dinner by giving them the opportunity to experience delicacies they don’t often indulge in at The Reef,” explained Carroll. “The cuisine was not that of what you’d typically find on our menus and the beverage pairings were also distinctive in their own ways. As an example, I chose to pair Chef Kareem’s Smoked Sea Scallops with Mezcal, which is tequila’s lesser-known cousin but pairs equally well.”
While Members enjoyed their meals – like ceviche and beef tortelloni – and paired beverages – like Mio Sparkling Sake and Brandy Alexander – the chefs worked behind the scenes on the next dish to be served in the Town Hall Ballroom. At the end of each course, Members rated their meal on its presentation, creativity, taste and pairing. At the night’s end, a winner was declared – or this year, winners.
“While the dinner was in fact a competition, we all worked together as a single culinary team to present the best dinner possible to a room of more than 100 Members,” said Confer. “There was supportive energy in the kitchen throughout the night. We’d form assembly lines, fashioning each plate with care before sending it out to the tables to be enjoyed by Members.”
Jevon Smith, Town Hall Waterside Sous Chef and one of the night’s two winners, said, “Witnessing the passion and detail that every chef put into their dishes was truly inspiring. It was a fun challenge to operate alongside my fellow ORC chefs that I don’t always get the chance to work with.”
Chef Smith has only been with the Club for a few months and is already making a name for himself at Town Hall Waterside. His “Roasted Duck a la Brasa” tied for the Members’ choice of the night with Chef Santiago Puga’s “Black Forrest” – a chocolate fudge cake with vanilla cream, brandied cherry and pinot noir gelato. Yum!