Battledish Kingston | The Experience

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


On the weekend on February 9th, I took part in Battledish Kingston as a judge and it was quite the foodie experience as six local chefs competed.

What is Battledish?
Battledish is the largest culinary chef competition taking place in cities across North America. Local chefs compete by presenting their creations and having the public cast their vote on who will be crowned King.

What was the Battledish event like?
Think of it as a walking adventure through downtown restaurants where chefs are waiting with their creations. At check-in, you receive a map and a menu of the Battledish. It is then up to you to decide who to vote for based on five categories, Most Delicious, Most Creative, Best Modern, Most Authentic and Best Cocktail. Battlegrounds are open for four hours. Everything is within walking distance.

{Menu and Map}

So let's proceed! After months of planning by Christine McCullough, the day arrived were the chefs would impress the public with their culinary skills.

The event started early afternoon with check-in at Monty's located next to Tir Nan Nog. Welcomed by a row of registration volunteers at the front handing out goodie bags to VIPs and menus/maps, to the sides, proud partners stood as well: University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, Sustainable Kingston and Barley Days Brews.

With food/drink tickets in hand and a route planned out to each restaurant, the first stop of the afternoon was Jack Astor's across from Market Square and all the festivities of Feb Fest. Greeted by a volunteer, we were seated at a table and were brought a Sunday Caesar and to my dismay, this was my first one ever, with bacon might I add. Whoa nelly was there a kick to it, though with salted rim, the drink did blend well. I still don't understand why this drink is associated with Sundays, do you know? Please do share!

Next the Beauty and the Beef dish by Chef Aaron was plated. With lots of 'beauty' going on, points were given for presentation and originality. The pin wheeled meat was tender as it laid over what seemed to be like sautéed mushrooms. The lightly battered onion to the side was done nicely as there was a good ratio between crunch and flavour. However the balsamic reduction drizzle around the plate could have been brought in a bit closer to the main attraction as it wasn't just for decor, it was actually quite nice paired with the goat cheese garlic spread and risotto which for some odd reason had a slight pink tinge.
Chef Aaron Johnson

Dish: Beauty and the Beef
Seasoned beef over mushroom risotto, coined with a goat cheese and garlic spread, roasted red peppers and soft asparagus. Finished with a balsamic reduction and lightly dusted onion rings.

{Beauty and the Beef}

Drink: Battle of the Bacon: Sunday Caesar
Whether you like bold or blonde, when you put them head to head something spicy is bound to happen. Enjoy a Sunday Caesar with a little wake up kick to the mix with a coffee bacon and vodka twist.

{Sunday Caesar}

With the first meal of the day in our tummies (we made sure to come hungry!), we proceeded to Milestones located at the corner of Ontario St and Princess St, two blocks away. As snowflakes came down and the wind picked up, scarves were tied tighter, hoods were pulled over our heads and sunglasses were put on. Gotta love good old Canadian weather!

At Milestones, I was darn happy they had a Mexican Hot Toddy to warm us up, though not a fan of rum, it was quite pleasant. As for the second drink option of pomegranate martini, holy moly I could feel it. After a few sips, we were presented with Chef Arden's winter marinated sirloin dish. The meat was cooked perfected and by far the most flavourful dish. The beans were crisp and underneath laid a butternut parsnip & horseradish puree though not completely smooth, that blended very nicely with the au jus. Once you hit the bottom of the dish, the au jus became a mess of deliciousness as you swirled your fork with the puree and piece of sirloin.

Chef Arden MacLean

Dish: Winter Marinated Sirloin 
Marinated sirloin with a red wine (pinot noir) and shallot au-jus on top of a butternut parsnip & horseradish puree and green beans with sweet potato crisps.

{Winter Marinated Sirloin}

Drink: Pomegranate Martini
Smirnoff vodka, triple sec, pomegranate juice.

Drink: Mexican Hot Toddy
Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Grand Manier, hot apple cider, cinnamon stick and orange wedge.

{Pomegranate Martini & Mexican Hot Toddy}

After Milestones, we walked a block and found ourselves at Sipps Coffee & Dessert Bar or shall I call it dessert heaven. Chef Sarah's dish was a carrot cheesecake with caramel drizzle on the plate minus walnuts due to my tree nut allergy. Each bite taken was savoured and I could have had another piece. The icing had a nice whip to it and when combined with the layers of the cake, your mouth just was amazed with sweetness. I'm crossing my fingers they add this to their cake display! I know where my next coffee date will be!

Chef Sarah Whitehead

Dish: Carrot Cheesecake
Traditional carrot cake combined with a delicious white cheesecake.

{Carrot Cheesecake}

With dessert done, we decided to make our way up Princess St to Windmills. Seated close to the bar, we exchanged a ticket for a drink.

Not a big fan of alcohol to begin with as well as pop, the Soho Lychee Martin had carbonation that had my stomach tossing and turning as it was something it had not encountered for a while. Having had a few sips, I was excited for Chef Adam's dish of escargot and let me tell you, my first time trying escargot was at Amadeus and was quite surprised at how amazing it tasted with a garlic butter. Though at Windmills, no butter was needed as a lovely creamy mushroom chorizo sauce laced the escargot, which also proved to be perfect to scope up with the crostini. If you hesitate on ever getting escargot, be adventurous! You won't know you like it until you've tried it and with events like Battledish and Dishcrawl, it sure does get you out of your foodie comfort zone! This dish was truly authentic.

Windmills Casual Fine Dining & Catering
Chef Adam Martin

Dish: Sautéed Chorizo and Mushroom Escargot 
Escargot in a garlic, chorizo and mushroom cream sauce, served with grilled crostini.

 {Sautéed Chorizo and Mushroom Escargot} 

Drink: Soho Lychee Martini
Gin, soho lychee liqueur, grapefruit juice & soda water, garnished with lime.

{Soho Lychee Martini}

A walk up the street, led us to Geneva Crepe Cafe, known for its crepes, fondues and speciality coffees.  Here, a bacon chocoholic drink and their signature Bombay crepe awaited us. Given the drink first, it surely was the most unique of the day as it was made with liquid smoke, chocolate ganache and toped with bacon bits. Ah hello, chocolate and bacon.. amazing! Some may think of it as odd but take sweet and savoury, and you'll be surprised. Talking about bacon, you should try bacon and cheddar, on waffles with maple syrup. Trust me, you'll love it!

As for the dish by Chef Genevieve, it was inspired by Indian cuisine with a curry chicken salad but with healthy alternatives of grapes and celery, giving it a crunch. With each bite, the ganache provided on the plate was well complemented with the curry filling.

Chef Genevieve Patenaud

Dish: Bombay Crepe 
Handmade crepes with mild curry, chicken, grapes and celery.

{Bombay Crepe}

Drink: Bacon Chocoholic
Chocolate ganache, maple smoked bacon bits, cointreau, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg & whipped cream.

{Bacon Chocoholic}

As we finally made it to our last stop, The Grizzly Grill and two tickets in hands, we were somewhat full but made it a mission to try all six restaurants and good thing we shared every dish.

The lamb chops by Chef Ryan were delicate, tender and juicy. A simple yet tasty dish combined with wild rice. As for the Tawny Apple drink, yum! The apple flavour was distinct in taste and wasn't overpowered with soda water i.e fizz.

Chef Ryan Pitt

Dish: Maple Glazed Lamb Chops
A maple pecan crusted rack of lamb roasted to a perfect medium rare. Sitting on a fluffy bed of granny smith and butternut squash wild rice. Served with golden beets and asparagus. Finished off with a beautiful drizzle of Port-Honey reduction.

{Maple Glazed Lamb Chops}

Drink: Tawny Apple
2 ounces of Taylor Flagpole Port, pure apple juice, a spritz of soda water, sprigs of mint and to tie it all together an apple slice for garnish.

  {Tawny Apple}

All images were taken with a Nikon D3100.

Stay tuned for a post on food photography based on Battledish Kingston using the Samsung Galaxy Camera thanks to Rogers!

Congratulations,
Chef Arden Maclean for winning Most Delicious, Most Creative and Best Modern within Kingston!

Chef Genevieve Patenaude for winning Most Authentic and Best Cocktail within Kingston!

Finally Congratulations,
Chef Arden Maclean for nationally winning Best Modern dish across North America!

Great job to all the chefs who participated!

Enjoy!

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