Ultimate Chef Bergen County: Honey


Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

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

Click for Hi-Res Slide Show

After defeating Chef Joe Macri from Northvale’s Hennessy Tavern in the Ultimate Chef Bergen County finals at Chef Central in Paramus last month, on Saturday, February 28, 2009, Chef Christine Nunn of Picnic Caterers in Emerson went up against last year’s champion, Joe Cerniglia of Campania Restaurant in Fair Lawn, for the final bout and to compete for this year’s title and bragging rights of Ultimate Chef Bergen County.

This year’s “Secret Ingredient” was HONEY.

Ready for a sticky sweet smackdown, Jersey Style? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

This is a blueberry honey from South Jersey. Both teams brought along various different honeys to use as focus flavors for each dish and to build on the unique flavor characteristics of each honey. Picnic Caterers focused exclusively on New Jersey/New York area honeys, whereas Campania had honeys from all around the US including Orange Blossom honeys.

Honeys from New Jersey are difficult to find during the winter months as they are an agricultural product and mostly sold during the summer at Farmers Markets and Fruit/Vegetable stands when summer produce is available. Still, Picnic was able to collect a bunch of interesting ones from local farms.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The coveted Ultimate Chef Bergen County Trophy. Two competitors, but only one will win.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Chef Joe Cerniglia (Right, in black uniform) with Chef Thomas Griffiths of the Culinary Institute of America.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Mise-en-place from Cerniglia’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia in intense concentration mode.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Michelle West and Christine Nunn discuss strategy.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The interns and Certified Master Chef  Ken Arnone from the Culinary Institute of America look on.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia and his Sous Chef/Pastry Chef prepares for battle to start.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The crowd looks on patiently.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Only seconds remaining before the competition starts. Judges Ken Arnone, Thomas Griffiths, Susan Leigh Sherril (201 Magazine) and Bill Pitcher (Bergen Record) watch with interest.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Christine Nunn starts with pouring some  Chardonnay  in the pot as poaching liquid for her appetizer course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Pouring on the Honey into the pot!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Stuffing the Poussin (Small Chickens) with butter and herbs.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

And you can’t have a stuffed chicken without stuffing.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

And lots of raw honey on top.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Pulling pears out of the poaching wine.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia discusses his next course with Chef Central Culinary Director Jim Edwards.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Farro Grain being cooked as a side dish at Cerniglia’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

CMC Ken Arnone explains to the audience what is going on and how the dishes are being prepared.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Christine and Michelle work on the pastry/pear base for their first course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Poached Pears over Puffed Pastry with a honey glaze. But they aren’t complete without…

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras. That’s a whole lobe of fattened duck liver.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The Foie Gras is seared in a pan and plated over the pears and puff pastry.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s First Course: Seared Hudson valley foie gras with honey and chardonnay poached pears with a puff pastry crouton, drizzle of blueberry honey.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia’s First Course: A tasting of three honeys with varied presentations of blue cheese, goat cheese and homemade ricotta.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s Michelle West works on the plating for the second course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Meticulous down to every green bean.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia puts honey glazed and sesame crusted pan seared Sea Scallops into a stovetop smoker.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia’s Scallops ready for his second course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Quail Eggs for Picnic’s second course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s Second Course:  Deconstructed Salad Nicoise with Nicoise Olive Crusted Tuna, Haricot Vert, Potato, Quail Egg and Pine Barrens Honey Vinaigrette.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia’s second course: Hazelnut Crusted, Pan Seared and Smoked Scallops, paired with Apple, Fennel and Mint Slaw with a Honey Dressing.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Duck Breasts searing at Cerniglia’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Searing up nice.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Farro side dish looking good at Cerniglia’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The crowd looks on as Cerniglia finishes off his farro.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s poussin emerges from the oven.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Sauteeing bundles of carrots and Brussels sprouts at Picnic’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Apple Cranberry Relish at Picnic’ Station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia slices up duck breast.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Sauce reduction at Cerniglia’s station.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia discusses his third dish before final plating.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia’s third course: Seared Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Savory Farro with Roasted Golden Beets in Honey sauce.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Christine puts the finishing touches on her third course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Can’t forget the Brussel Sprouts.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Or the pan juices.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s third course: Lavender Honey Glazed Poisson with Baguette Herb de Provence Stuffing, Honey Glazed Carrots, Brussel Sprouts with Apple Cranberry Relish with local cranberry honey.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic third course close-up.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The judges discuss the dishes.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Michelle West works on Picnic’s dessert course.

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Picnic’s dessert course: Chocolate Torte with Honey, Frozen Honey Custard, Honey Truffle

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Cerniglia’s dessert course: Pan fried brioched topped with almond sorbet, with honey-sweetened tea.

The judges convened for what seemed like an eternity before Chef Central’s Culinary Director Jim Edwards announced the results.

And the winner?

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

Chef Christine Nunn and Chef Michelle West from Picnic Caterers!!!!!

Ultimate Chef Bergen County (Honey) by you.

The champions rejoice.

Christine and Michelle will return next year to compete in the 2010 Ultimate Chef final battle. Will Picnic be unseated next year or will they maintain their title? Who knows — but Christine and Michelle deserve a hard-earned rest.

10 Responses to Ultimate Chef Bergen County: Honey

  1. iheartfilm says:

    I’m full right now, but this post is still making my stomach growl.

    Chris

  2. Chef Knives says:

    I never knew I could love honey in so many ways. Mouthwatering. Congrats to Christine and Michelle!

  3. Eric says:

    Christine Nunn deserves this award. She whips up some great dishes at Picnic and is such a nice person. I always eat well when I stop to pickup a bite to eat there. Congrats to her!!!!!!!!

  4. Barry says:

    I am salivating over all the epicurian delights. Send it all out to me in a care package.
    Congrats to Picnic….sometimes its pays to Nitpic!

  5. Alexa says:

    Congratulations to Christine! Her food is so fantastic, and we are very happy for her. We all love Picnic, and wish them the very best! From your friends at the Paramus Public Library.

  6. christine says:

    Jason, we are both thrilled with the photos! Great job!

  7. […] Christine received the letter no doubt due to her use of Foie Gras in one of her dishes at the Ultimate Chef Bergen County Finals. It should be noted that due to the fact that since Foie Gras is such an incredibly expensive […]

  8. […] She is a classically trained chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and won the Ultimate Chef Bergen County competition in 2009, which got her a great deal of local […]

  9. […] Joe Cerniglia, a local Northern New Jersey chef  and owner of Campania Restaurant in Fair Lawn was found dead this weekend from an apparent suicide. These photos which I took of him last year show him competing in Ultimate Chef Bergen County 2009. […]

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