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Food Fight at Viking Cooking School, Harrah’s Resort


On Tuesday, March 29,  I had the pleasure of serving as one of four judges for the first ever “Food Fight” challenge at the Viking Cooking School in Atlantic City. Chef Brad Smith (Reflections Cafe) and Chef Mark Bruschi (Reflections Cafe) proudly raised their spatulas in the air, to claim the title of  the first ever “Food Fight” champions.  The team battled ferociously against fellow Harrah’s Resort vets Chef Dan Pellegrino (The Deli) and Chef Furman Stoop (The Pool), in a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all lamb and spring pea challenge (some my favorite foods ever).

This “Food Fight” competition officially began on March 15, when the team of Smith and Bruschi defeated seasoned chefs Mike Laurenza (Polistina’s) and Justin Vignola (VIP Lounge), but back-alley food throw-downs have existed since Harrah’s inception.  So in a sense, it was time to put your “duck breast where your mouth is.”  These Chefs competed for no monetary gain, purely for bragging rights, and when all the smoke cleared it was one team that took home all the glory.

Each team was required to create one Soup or Salad, one appetizer, two entrees and a dessert using at least one of the two secret ingredients.  They were given the secret ingredients the morning of the event and told to get cooking. The resulting menus were impressive.

Blue Team: Chef Brad Smith and Chef Mark Bruschi (Reflections Cafe)

Sweet Pea Chopped Salad

Cherry Glazed “Bouquet” of Lam Lollipops

Lamb Kibbe

Lam Loin Dijon

Sweet Pea and Ginger Ice Cream

Red Team: Chef Dan Pellegrino and Chef Furman Stoop

Pea & Roasted Garlic Soup

Braised Lamb Slider

Seared Deep Sea Black Cod

Pesto Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb

Mint & Sweet Pea Frozen Yogurt Shortcake

I have to say that for this judge, even though the Red Team didn’t win, their Pea & Roasted Garlic soup was my favorite dish of the night. (I’m hoping to snag the recipe to share with all of you.)

In the end, after much tasting and deliberating, (check out the slide show below) the winners were announced. Congratulations to Chef Brad Smith and Chef Mark Bruschi.  I hear they are now extending an open invite to all Caesars Entertainment property chefs who think they have what it takes to stand stove to stove with the “Reflection Renegades.”  I smell another food fight in the works.

We would like to send a special shout out to the each and every chef that gave up their personal time to compete as well as make this competition a reality…  Chef Brad Smith, Chef Mark Bruschi, Chef Dan Pellegrino, Chef Furman Stoop, Chef Michael Laurenza, and Chef Justin Vignola, Chef Shawn Fair, Executive Sous Chef Jack Whelan.

Check out the video for all the action.

Deborah Smith , Founder and Executive Editor of JerseyBites.com.  Launched in 2007 as a home for her growing collection of recipes, Jersey Bites soon grew into a hub for all things edible in the Garden State. Deborah is also the owner of Parents With Nannies, Inc. which operates a network of nanny employment websites established in 1999.  In her spare time, (Ha) she works as a Social Media consultant and speaker.  You can learn more about her services and marketing through social media on her blog www.DeborahLSmith.com

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