Saturday’s Cadillac Culinary Challenge at Bridgewater Commons, co-sponsored by Bon Appetit, featured chefs Anthony Bucco from Uproot in Warren and Corey Heyer of the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville.
This weekend I had the unique opportunity to observe the New Jersey Cadillac Culinary Challenge, an interesting event that combines the obsession of foodies and fine cuisine with the luxury and horsepower of America’s finest automobiles.
The event, which is part of a series that is touring the country, was held at Bridgewater Commons Mall on Saturday, September 19th. Two local chefs, Anthony Bucco and Corey Heyer were pitted against each other in a series of cooking demos in which they had to use a focus ingredient — in this case, Apples. For each demo, a panel of judges was chosen from the audience who then tasted each of the chefs’ dishes.
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Chef Anthony Bucco (left) and Chef Corey Heyer (right)
The theme ingredient, Apples.
While I love a good cooking demo, I couldn’t help but peer under the hood of the Cadillac CTS-V, the most powerful production sedan in the world. That’s over 500 brake supercharged horsepower under that hood. If I had a spare $65,000 lying around I might be tempted to make a dent in my savings account over one of these.
Here’s the front end of the CTS-V.
And the interior.
The CTS-V, while definitely sporting serious power and sex appeal, was not one of the cars that you could drive at the event, though — the GM executives didn’t want me doing Top Gear-style donuts in the mall parking lot (and believe me, I would, if given the opportunity.)
This car, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, was one of several models that you could drive and actually is a car that interests me greatly, along with GM’s other alternative fuel and green technologies, such as the Chevy Volt.
Apparently, this particular hybrid model gets far better mileage than the regular gasoline-only Escalade if you are the type of person that does a lot of stop-and-go and mixed city and highway driving, and has very similar AWD performance in bad weather like its gasoline-only luxury SUV cousin. The GM executives who I met which use it as their primary car absolutely love it it.
Okay, so it can’t do the Nuremburg Ring in under 8 minutes like the CTS-V, but you get to save the planet and a lot of gas too. And you have to admit, the Escalade has serious bling appeal. The sound system in that car has got some mind blowing mega-bass.
Okay, enough with the testosterone and back to the stomach. The demo tent, which was fitted with outdoor air conditioning, had really cool HDTV monitors that allowed you to watch all the close-up action of each chef’s prep and cooking station. Maybe not as fun as watching the Stig or Jeremy Clarkson race a Bugatti Veyron or an AMG Black around a track at 200Mph, but quite entertaining nonetheless.
Chef Antony Bucco’s demo plates, of which there were plenty for the audience to taste.
Chef Bucco went with an Asian-inspired and heavily citrus and acid enhanced hamachi crudo (sashimi-style) dish, with Green Apple Mustard, Tapioca, Apple Gelee and Bacon Caramel accompanied by a Radish and Mizuna salad. Very unconventional and gutsy in terms of concept, and there was a LOT going on with this particular dish.
Chef Corey’s tasting plates which were passed around the audience as well.
Chef Corey went with a more French/Italian fusion approach, and was my favorite of the two dishes presented. This was a roasted Macintosh Apple and Rosemary Ravioli with Duck Confit, Fried Brie Croutons, Celeriac (Celery Root) Salad and Cinnamon Toasted Walnuts.
The pasta for this dish was made with wonton skins, which made it easier for doing demos for several hundred people than if using a fresh ravioli pasta (which chef and I agreed would be killer in a restaurant setting).
All in all, a very fun afternoon. I encourage you to check out the Cadillac Culinary Challenge when it hits your town, so you can try some great food and test drive some really spectacular cars.