Golden Knives Challenge: Arguably the Best Meal in Westchester By Katie Schlientz
I’ve eaten a lot of meals in Westchester. I’ve shared meals at some of the fanciest restaurants; and eaten elbow to elbow at some of the small, local favorites. So whenI heard some of the river town’s best chefs were competing in a cooking challenge, how could I say no?
The Golden Knives Challenge is the brainchild of Chef Eric Korn of Good-Life Gourmet in Irvington. The three-week long tournament, which started earlier this month, is hosted at The Lodge in Hudson Harbor in Tarrytown, and pitted several chefs against each other: Alex Sze (Juniper, Hastings), Carl Van Dekker (Village Dog, Tarrytown), Navjot Arora (Chutney Masala, Irvington), Diane Forley and Michael Otsuka (Flourish Baking Company, Scarsdale), Sean Corcoran (Peekskill Brewery, Peekskill) and Korn.
Each evening has two seatings—7 and 8:30 p.m.—and features a three-course meal from two competing chefs. Diners vote for a winner at the end of each meal. This has definitely presented a challenge to diners—the meals have been nothing short of fantastic, with votes for the chef’s tallying neck and neck each evening.
If being a judge wasn’t fun enough, being a diner also offers another unique experience. While these chefs prepare great meals on a daily basis at their respective restaurants, here they get the opportunity to play. The menus strategically placed on each table are a reflection of their culinary creativity—they are trying new dishes, conquering new techniques and playing with flavors. It’s incredibly fun to watch and delicious to enjoy.
Tuesday evening was a prime example of that, as Chef Korn and Chef Arora battled it out to see who could reserve a spot in the finale. Chef Korn’s first dish was an incredible braised short rib pho. As the broth was poured over the tender meat, rice noodles and veggies on the plate, the aroma sent mouths watering. The dish proved to be hard to compete with—Chef Korn edged out the win to move on to the finale.
Last night’s event was packed with both Village Dog and Peekskill Brewery fans, as Chef Van Dekker went up against Chef Corcoran. The two worked together to create a menu that would not only showcase their abilities, but also compliment each other.
While Chef Corcoran served up a duck trio main course featuring duck breast, sausage and confit, Chef Van Dekker’s braised beef cheeks proved incredibly hard to beat. A quick note to anyone who squirmed a little at the mention of beef cheek—the meat was incredibly tender and delicious. Chef Van Dekker is known for cooking things that will push your culinary limits, and if you’re going to take the opportunity, you will be left wanting more.
The winner of last night’s event was posted on the Golden Knives Facebook page today. Chef Van Dekker will face Chef Eric Korn over a two-evening challenge Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
Tickets for the finale are $50 and include the chefs’ two appetizers, two main courses, and two desserts. The event is BYOB, but next week’s finale will feature coffee from Tarrytown’s Coffee Lab Roasters. Reservations and tickets: 914-747-0519 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Lodge is at 2 Hudson View Way in Tarrytown.
Katie Schlientz will be tweeting live from the Golden Knives Challenge next week. To get a sneak peek at menus, follow her @KatieSchlientz, #goldenkniveschallenge. For more event photos, visit pinterest.com/katieschlientz/golden-knives-challenge/.
Guest blogger Katie Schlientz started her love affair with food after she cooked her first dinner for her family. On the menu? Straight out of the box mac ‘n cheese. While her cooking skills and palate have certainly matured since then, she still loves watching people experience good food. She is currently launching her own lifestyle blog, intoxiKate.com.
Photo Credits Katie Schlientz