Chefs to battle in annual Taste of Newark
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 23:09
On Sunday, the Downtown Newark Partnership will present the ninth annual Taste of Newark, featuring culinary demonstrations from more than 50 restaurants in the Newark area and a cook-off between local chefs.
The event will be from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Old College Lawn (rain location: Clayton Hall). Last year, the event was sold out and the chefs estimated more than a thousand guests. The cost is $45 in advance for an all-you-can-eat menu and $60 at the door. Each guest will receive a commemorative wine glass.
The main attraction of Taste of Newark is “Battle of the Chefs.” Chefs will have an hour to present their best culinary invention to a jury and guests. The chefs competing this year are Eric Aber and Brian Mackey of Home Grown Café, Andy Maulaitis and Jesse Jones from the Stone Balloon Winehouse, Chantel Orellana and Jeff Brittingham of Courtyard Newark at the University of Delaware, Giovany Valle of Caffé Gelato, Rich Collis of Cucina di Napoli and Jeff Matyger of Taverna.
The chefs will be given a secret list of ingredients that they can pick up the night before the event. The next day, they will create a dish to present to judges. Chef Valle of Caffé Gelato says the ingredients are always a surprise.
“I have no idea of what the secret ingredients will be,” Valle says. “It can be meat, like beef or pork because we have it every year. But I hope it will be something different, maybe an exotic animal like ostrich.”
The chefs come from different backgrounds and have different experiences with food. Maulaitis, 30, and Jones, 31, are brothers from Maryland and chefs at the Stone Balloon Winehouse. They say they learned to cook with their grandmother and by watching cooking shows.
Courtyard Newark Chef Orellana, 29, from Wilmington, says she attended York Technical Institute in Pennsylvania to become a chef. Although she has already done various cooking competitions, this will be her first time competing in Taste of Newark. Orellana says she is looking forward to the event since she enjoys the adrenaline rush of trying to get everything done in time.
“I am looking forward to it,” Orellana says. “I want to be familiar with the other chefs in Newark and get to know them. I want to see what we have in common and what they are able to make with the secret ingredients.”
Cucina di Napoli Chef Colliss, 34, says he never went to a culinary school but taught himself how to be a chef and worked his way up to become the apprentice of some of the most prestigious chefs in the world. He was the apprentice at Restaurant Citron in France under Georges Perrier , the sous-chef of internationally known Chef Nicolas Le Bec.
“I just always liked food,” Colliss says. “I always liked to cook. I cooked with my mother and grandmother and when no one was around I was always experimenting. In college I cooked for my friends.”
The event will also feature cooking demonstrations from more than 50 restaurants and 30 wineries. The participating restaurants in the event vary from Kildare’s to the UDairy Creamery.
Executive Chef Jason Viscount of Bricco Restaurant in Harrisburg, Pa. will also attend the event. He will be one of the judges for “Battle of the Chefs” and give cooking demonstrations as well. Bricco’s restaurant is now a member of Distinguished Restaurants of North America and acts as a teaching restaurant.
Collis says the event is a great way to bring the residents and students from the university together.
“I like that everybody comes from around town, it gives you the opportunity to meet certain people that you could not meet otherwise,” Colliss says. “It is a great fundraiser for the town and for us too.”
Caffé Gelato owner Ryan German, 34, says his restaurant has participated every year since the beginning of Taste of Newark. He also says that this event is a great opportunity to promote Newark’s restaurants.
“I think that after people come out to Taste of Newark, it forces them to recognize that Newark is a place to eat,” German says. “It gives them the option to get excited and come back more frequently. They can see that Newark has great restaurants.”