As always, the on site preparation for a WBEZ Chef Battle seems like semi-organized chaos. This year, we held a Dessert Edition, with Kilogram Tea as the common ingredient.
Tyler and I spinning multiple plates - on site set up (some chefs need power and freezers and more table space!), 18 volunteer assignments, food deliveries coming in, sponsors arriving for their set ups, organizing a coat check, a sound check. At one moment, the biggest crisis we are dealing with is getting the building's WIFI password to work on the iPads we use for on site registration and check in. As we draw closer to opening, problems get solved, things get smoothed over and the room is buzzing.
At 6:30, we open the doors to the public and our audience starts streaming in. Desserts begin flying off tables, the Kendall College students move around in tandem with the WBEZ volunteers and the place is hopping. Ben Roche is serving up a thing that looks like goo with a piece of paper and a shot of banana liqueur. Four people ask me how to eat it and I have to ask Ben. Jessica Oloroso is moving between two kitchens to get all of her elements ready and together - who would've thought . The line for the wine (poured by the Wine Goddess herself) is a bit out of control.
At the end of the evening, the two winners were Jonathan Ory ( Bad Wolf Coffee) from the audience vote and Dana Cree (Blackbird) for the Jury prize. We accommodated nearly 500 people who enjoyed three hours of Kilogram Tea, Goose Island Beer Co., wine from The Wine Goddess, cheese from Whole Foods Market Chicago, chocolate from Ten Thousand Villages and nine separate desserts from five incredible chefs!
We can't wait for next year!