Held at Top of the Market, the event was an interactive showcase that celebrated the creativity of local chefs as they crafted unique dishes from mystery ingredients. Participating chefs were challenged to transform the ingredients into something new and delicious, which was judged by attendees and a separate panel of judges including this writer.
Diced in Dayton Chef’s Challenge is based on what the chefs at MVM face each day when they transform recovered foods into hearty, chef-inspired meals to be distributed to a network of partners serving the hungry in the Miami Valley free of charge. The network distributes an average of 4,000 meals per week with the majority of meal ingredients coming from donated foods.
In addition to St. Denis, participating chefs included runner up Gerald Richardson (Rich Taste Catering) in addition to Patrick Thompson (redBERRY), Santiago Herrera (Napales), Nate Lansangan (Kung Fu BBQ), Ashley Ashbrook (Blind Dogs), Jasmine Brown (De’Lish Cafe), Gail Corrado Okafor (Bella Sorella Pizza Co.), Waver Howard (Creative Delights Catering), Santiago Herrera (Napales), Matt Thomas (Ellie’s Restaurant) and Chris Spirtos (Greek Street).
Taylor Naragon, marketing and development director for Miami Valley Meals, shared at the event that $34,000 was raised thanks to ticket sales, sponsorships and an onsite raffle for the organization.
“This year’s Diced in Dayton was a major success,” Naragon said. “Thanks to everyone who came out to support, and our amazing chefs and sponsors who helped make the event happen. I am always so impressed to see what the chefs create, and they brought their A-game for us. The MVM team is incredibly grateful to be surrounded by so many amazing and generous people here in Dayton who support our work to feed those in need.”
The event serves as a fantastic reminder to never take restaurants and the talented kitchen staff we have in our community for granted. St. Denis brings a resume with stints working in well-respected kitchens across the local dining scene including work experience at The Winds, Tipp City’s Coldwater Café and the Sunrise Cafe in Yellow Springs. He is a clear culinary talent worth visiting if you haven’t been to Corner Kitchen in a while.
I was blown away, as were all of the judges, by his final dish. His artistry spoke volumes about what he is able to do in the kitchen, especially considering he had 25 minutes to create it on a very small stage right next to the other team of chefs he was competing against.
His final dish was a creamy, dreamy, silky delicious mushroom fritter that crisped up perfectly to hold the delicate filling in until the very first bite. He created a delightful southern Italian puttanesca sauce that played off the fritter perfectly with tomato, capers, garlic cloves, olives and all of the other big flavors you would expect. The perfectly composed dish sat on a delicate thin airy pancake that was the perfect conduit to deliver the dish to your mouth should you want to skip the fork.
The three secret ingredients both St. Denis and his sous chef as well as Gerald Richardson from Rich Taste Catering had to cook with in the final round were shitake, oyster and portobello mushrooms, Dayton’s own Uncle Boof’s World Famous small-batch pancake mix and a turmeric tamarind and ginger curry paste. Richardson’s dish was also impressive as was the intense cooking choreography that was on display at the end of the night in the push to create the final dishes.
This event is a wonderful, fun celebration of the creativity of chefs. The event highlights how with just a little extra time and care, a talented chef can turn random foods into something great, which is exactly what Miami Valley Meals does every day when it takes a chef’s approach to solving hunger.
To learn more about the work that Miami Valley Meals does in the community visit https://miamivalleymeals.org.
Contact this contributing writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.