Many little piggys rolled all the way home from #GroundHogChallenge at Richmond Station on Monday night. In the 5th year of the competition, guests were treated to a total of 9…yes 9 courses of pork, from 7 chefs vying for the glory and the trophy from this year’s event plus a charcuterie plate and a bacon, pumpkin seed tart prepared by Carl Heinrich and his team.
The chefs battling for pork supremacy included Ted Corrado from The Drake 150, Nicholas Marragau from Bar Boulud, Alex Molitz (Farmhouse tavern), Tara Besignano (Skin and Bones), Jesse Vallins from The Saint, Albert Ponzo from Le Select and Teo Paul of Union. They all faced an esteemed panel of judges, from Chris McDonald, the founder of the event, to Nial McCotter (Auberge du Pommier), Suresh Doss of Zagat, Karon Liu from The Grid and Liora Ipsum from BlogTO, Michael di Caro (Spotlight), David Ort (Food with Legs) as well as Chef and Owner of The McEwan Group and Head Judge of Top Chef Canada, Mark McEwan.
At 6:00pm the dishes started to come out of the kitchen, in the spirit of competition, all the chefs helped plate each other’s meals… this also made it difficult to discern which plate came from which chef in the open concept kitchen.
All the tasting was done blind, with Ryan Donovan of Richmond Station giving the explanations of the plates as they arrived in front of the diners and the judges were sequestered to maintain the anonymity of the plate’s creator.
A who’s who of the restaurant industry devoured course after course. Judging each menu item on taste, presentation and “ham factor” (each dish was required to contain 50% pork).
By the end of the evening the judges crowned chef Nicholas Marragau from Bar Boulud as the 2014 champion! His “Black and White”, an artfully plated pork boudon blanc and blood sausage, was also voted as the crowd’s favourite.