Ultimate Chef Bergen County: Roquefort


Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

It’s time again for another episode of  Ultimate Chef Bergen County!

Click for Hi-Res Slide Show

After defeating Chef Carmine Spinazzola from South City Grill in the Lemongrass Battle, Chef Christine Nunn of Picnic Caterers returned again to the Chef Central demo kitchen to compete in the Ultimate Chef Bergen County finals.

Her opponent was Chef Joe Macri from Hennessy Tavern in Northvale, formerly of Candela Restaurant in New York City, which closed in July of 2007.  Macri is now making updated tavern-style food, so he was a perfect opponent for Christine, who specializes in classic French cuisine.

To match these two together, the judges picked an ingredient that couldn’t have been more well-suited for either chef — ROQUEFORT CHEESE!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Roquefort is a blue/green veined and very strong stinky cheese from the Aveyron region of Southern France made from sheep’s milk. Like Stilton and Gorgonzola, it is one of the most well-known and popular types of Blue Cheeses.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Chef Joe Macri ponders for a short time before the clocks start ticking.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Chef Michelle West and Chef Christine Nunn size up the competition. “Yeah, we can take this guy.”

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Chef Central’s Executive Chef Jim Edwards introduces the opponents and the key ingredient.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Judges Bill Pitcher of the Bergen Record and Susan Leigh Sherril of 201 Magazine. Chef Richard Kimble from Waldorf Astoria/Sodexo also returned to judge.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

28-day dry aged Prime Porterhouse Steak, from Picnic’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Chef Christine gets to work.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri starts putting on the elbow grease.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

SMOKIN!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

And STOCKIN!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Edwards interviews Macri about his restaurant.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Chef Michelle fills up baked fingerling potato skins with a mashed potato/roquefort filling.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine puts her game face on.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Michelle massages burger meat. BURGERS! With blue cheese!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

The competitors are civil but you can feel tension in the air. Someone is going down today!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine working on a sauce.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri ready to pull his pasta out of the pot.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

The judges look on, patiently awaiting their first course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri sautees some apples.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

One of Chef Central’s demo chefs help out. These events wouldn’t be possible without these chefs who put in their time and effort to make the headliners look good.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine gets nutty.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri unloads an Apple/Berry filling into ramekins for his dessert course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Michelle and Christine taste their sauce.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri’s ramekins, awaiting topping.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Michelle checks the mini-burgers for doneness.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Gettin’ close.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri pulls his lamb stock out of the pressure cooker.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri puts braised lamb shank meat into the food processor. What is he making… meatballs?

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Why yes, it could be meatballs!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Michelle seasons the Porterhouse.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine uses her deft CIA skills to condimentize the burgers. Yep, that’s Heinz Ketchup there!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri’s first course lands — Beet and Chardonnay Poached Pear with Roquefort Truffle Honey Fondue.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine’s first course — a tasting of Jacketed Fingerling Potato Skin, Mini Burger, Goffle Farm Chicken Wing with Roquefort Dressing.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Another view of Christine’s dish.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, from Macri’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Hmm… who wins the first course?

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri checks his Braised Lamb meatballs.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri’s second course — Braised Lamb Shank meatballs with Roquefort Cheese over Orzo with Lamb Jus topped with gremolata. I actually got to try this dish from the samples that were sent out to the audience, it was excellent, and it turned out to be the judge’s favorite of the day. This is a creative rendition and adaptation of Keftedes, a popular greek Taverna dish. Macri’s wife is Greek, so I think this was a shout out to her for supporting him from the sidelines. I was a little worried at this point that maybe Christine didn’t have this one in the bag.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Bacon and Roquefort Cheese, Figs, Pears, Quince Crostini, Christine’s second course. Not as creative as Macri’s second but the judges appreciated the showcasing of the ingredient and nice execution. Christine used a different and more crumbly variety of Roquefort for this plating.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

What’s this? more BURGERS from Macri’s station? BURGER THROWDOWN!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Caramelized onions from Macri’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri puts big mounds of Bleu Cheese on his burgers. I like loads of the stuff, but this is risky. As it turned out, I think he actually used Gorgonzola, not Roquefort. I got to try these from the audience samples, as did Rachel. Rachel thought the cheese was overpowering, but I liked them a lot. It just goes to show how an ingredient will play differently with different people.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine’s third course lands — Porter House Steak with Roquefort Dijon Hollandaise, Macaroni and Roquefort Cheese, Spinach and Button Mushrooms.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri’s third course lands, Burger with Caramelized Onions, Roquefort Cheese and Fresh Baked Burger Bun, Marinated Short Ribs with Roquefort Sauce over Pears and Bacon Brussel Sprouts.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Another view of Macri’s third.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

A close-up of Macri’s mini-burgers.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Christine’s dessert course — a Apple/Pear Crumb with a Pedro Ximenez sherry reduction (a 1971) topped with Roquefort Ice Cream and Candied Bacon.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri’s Apple/Berry crumble with Roquefort and Vanilla Bean ice cream. Rachel got to try this one and really liked it.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Presentation Dish Lineup near the judging station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

Macri talks about his restaurant after finishing up.

And who’s cusine reigned supreme?

It was Christine Nunn, of Picnic Caterers, who’s flawless technique and creative dishes won over the judges. But Macri put in a very good and solid showing, and I’m looking forward to trying his dishes at his restaurant soon. Put the meatballs on the menu!

As for Chef Christine — ON TO THE ULTIMATE ROUND ON FEBRUARY 28!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County -- Roquefort Cheese by you.

And Pitcher, go earn your lunch and wash the dishes!

7 Responses to Ultimate Chef Bergen County: Roquefort

  1. Diane says:

    Clearly from what you have seen and tasted this was a one sided showing from the judges. You can see who was more creative and inovative. This competition should have more judges that are chefs than magazine critics who have there own opionions. Thumbs down to this competition.

  2. Diane, I think that isn’t true. Both chefs were judged in several categories — Taste, Innovation, Plating, and Technique, and they were all weighted separately. My understanding is that Macri’s first dish suffered from the use of the truffle honey which overpowered the flavor of the other components, and that the use of a lot of cheese on his burgers resulted in an overpowering flavor that the judges did not like. If he used Gorgonzola on that burger instead of the Roquefort — which is a cow-based blue cheese versus a sheep’s milk cheese — it doesn’t even taste the same — that should have also disqualified him on that dish and I am sure the judges considered that. There were a few other technical issues with some of his dishes, if you were there to listen to their comments.

    What needs to be appreciated here is this is a one and a half hour competition. This is not the same thing as day to day restaurant cooking, where you can refine dishes you serve every day. Just because Macri lost the competition or even had technical issues with his dishes during the competition does not make him a bad chef, or the critique of the judges less valid. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. Christine lost last year to Kenneth Trickilo, who was beaten by someone else, Joe Cerniglia, the chef at Campania restaurant, who will be competing against Chistine on February 28th.

  3. adam says:

    “One of these things is not like the other” I am just at loss for words. The contestants in this case should have a set menu to make there choices. This would give the judges an opportunity to compare apples to apples. You can not objectively compare a Fried Chicken Wing to Brasied Lamb Shank Meatballs. Nobody has ever had to debate the food at Hooters to South City Grill. Obviously i was not a judge and did not have the same experience. While I respecrect there decision I can not agree. In response to your comment about Macri’s dish being too powerfull it doesn’t necessarily hold water. When you melt cheese it looses its intensity. The cheese on the salad should have been a much more powerfull dish. Having said this I guess we can chaulk it up to a learning exeprience for all. In addition as this is not a cable reality show…..”show folk should judge show folk” meaning chefs should judge chefs. As i said before i was not a judge. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  4. Dr. Stewart Perlow says:

    Too bad that Roquefort future prices- before President Bush left the Whitehouse he decided to increase import duties by 300% on Roquefort cheese, pate, and other French delicasies on Jan.13th. Great menu-wish we could find similar in Florida.

  5. […] Fourth Course: Pear Crumble with Honey Roquefort Ice Cream and Candied Bacon, paired with Merryvale Muscat. You may recall the Candied Bacon topped Roquefort Ice Cream from Chef Nunn’s triumphant appearance at the Bergen County Ultimate Chef competition in January 2009. […]

  6. Stacey says:

    Sorry but I have eaten Chef Macri’s food and it’s just ok. He can never get the temp right on his beef

  7. […] is definitely a guy’s dessert. This one is actually a keeper from the Roquefort battle at Ultimate Chef Bergen County, which blew the judges away back in January of 2009. You REALLY have to like bleu cheese to order […]

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