New cooking competition puts focus on chefs, local food
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jay Hirschfeld is hoping a socially-distanced brisket competition will inspire some of the area’s top chefs to create a new flavor-filled event.
“We’re making do with what we have and still kind of trying to celebrate the restaurant community and doing something fun,” said Hirschfeld, who owns and operates 41North, a year-round farm in Hayden.
Last year, 41North was doing a lot of farm-to-table dinners and invitation-only events to help promote the business and generate income. One of those events was an ice cream competition that was very popular with chefs and those who came to sample the tasty treats.
In 2020, Hirschfeld said COVID-19 made it difficult to continue the ice cream event, but he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. He switched things up and picked a different food item to showcase.
“We couldn’t have a roasted pheasant competition, because that would have been a small amount of food for a really high ticket price, so brisket kind of splits the balance,” Hirschfeld said. “Then we put up the prize money, so that people wanted to jump in for that, and we’re also including a stipend for chefs. We’re taking care of the chefs and just trying to provide everything, from the brisket to the food ingredient costs with hopes that it will be worth their while.”
Diners will pay $69 for a ticket to the event, and for that price, they will get 2.5 pounds of brisket with a half pound coming from each of the five chefs. This year’s field of competitors will include: Logan Harrison of Besame; Cole Reeves of Yampa Valley Kitchen; Jessi Watson of Yampa Valley Ice Cream Co.; Pete List of Steamboat Snow Bowl; and Anna Lighthizer of the Sizzling Pickle in Craig.
On the afternoon of Aug. 28, the fully-prepared brisket will be delivered to each ticket holder’s home in insulated bags ready to eat.
“It will be delivered warm and freshly cooked and prepared the way the chef wanted it,” Hirschfeld said. “We are recommending that right when it arrives, people lay it out on the table and go one by one to pick their favorites.”
He said the idea is to try the brisket when it’s fresh. Those participating in the contest are encouraged to sample the choices and then go ahead and refrigerate what’s left. He said reheating instructions will be sent along with each brisket.
After sampling the selections, diners can go onto the 41North website to vote on their favorites. There will be a place to write notes and critiques of the various briskets. Each brisket will only have a letter associated with it, and the chefs will only be revealed when the winner and runner-up are announced publicly on Monday, Aug. 31.
“We’ll close the voting Sunday night at midnight,” Hirschfeld said. “They’ll just rank them in order from the best to worst, and we will award points … whoever scores the highest is the winner and will be the brisket champion of the valley.”
Tickets are available through noon Thursday and can be purchased at 41northfood.com/brisket.
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