Dan Capello, executive chef at Chenal Country Club, won the Diamond Chef Arkansas preliminary competition Feb. 27 at the Peabody Hotel Little Rock. He advances to face the defending Diamond Chef champion Jason Knapp June 4 at the Arkansas Diamond Chef finale at the Statehouse Convention Center.
The events are presented by the Pulaski Technical College Foundation.
The seven-heat competition followed the format of the popular TV cooking show "Chopped." All chefs were presented a mystery basket of ingredients and had 40 minutes plus the help of one sous chef to prepare a dish using all the ingredients. The mystery basket for the final heat contained Creekstone Farms beef eye of round, Hiland Dairy Lowfat Ice Cream Mix, blood oranges, eggplant, Roland Foods Smoked Oysters, Rock Town Distillery Arkansas Lightening, and garden vegetables baby food.
From this disparate list of ingredients, Chef Capello produced a plate of eye of round stuffed with ratatouille and smoked oysters en croute and moonshine- red wine demi-glace, potato gnocchi, and sauce that contained the ice cream mix, blood oranges, and garden veggie baby food. He defeated finalist Philippe Ducrot, a culinary instructor at Pulaski Tech.
Judges were Chef Paul Bash, Chef Paul Novicky, Chef Andre Poirot and Jim Montgomery.
Photos from the event can be seen on the culinary program's Facebook page here.
All proceeds from Diamond Chef Arkansas help fund programs at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. The college thanks the generous support from individuals and businesses in central Arkansas
For the finale on June 4 at the Statehouse Convention Center, the two chefs will create a three-course meal using a mystery ingredient that will be announced just before the start of competition. The event is Tickets to that event can be purchased by calling Yvette Parker at (501) 812-2271 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.