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Chef David Smith Wins XIX AIWF Caesar Salad Competition in Dallas

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Chef David Smith of The Westin Galleria, winner of the Caesar Salad Competition (photography by Meredith Stein)

Last night, the Dallas Chapter of  American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF)  hosted the XIX Caesar Salad Competition. This annual event is AIWF’s largest annual fundraiser which raises money for Days of Taste, an educational and scholarship programs that introduces 5th grade children to the basics of healthy eating at the Dallas Farmers Market. Attendees sip wine as they watch local star chefs whip up unusual versions of the classic Caesar salad.

Caesar Cardini would hardly recognize most of the creations at this year’s competition as menu regulars at his Tijuana speakeasy. Chef David Smith of The Westin Galleria won top honors for his salad with caramelized onion brûlée accompanied with Shiner-braised beef short ribs. Second place went to Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Crust for his  semolina-crusted Texas quail salad. Gisellu prepared a mostly conventional salad with a soft-boiled quail egg perched on top and a serving of quail on the side. Daniel Nemec of Kirby’s Woodfire Grill took third place for an inventive salad which included Hudson Valley duck breast stuffed with Boursin cheese wrapped in prosciutto San Danielle and red current flavored veal stock reduction. He made a container shaped like a Panama hat out of Parmesan cheese and put the salad inside. He also served Belgian dark chocolate truffles. All of these chefs used anchovies which Cardini not only omitted, but opposed.

Jump for more images from the competition…

Most innovative, in my estimation, were those prepared by Tiffany Derry of Go Fish Ocean Club and Jean-Marie Cadot of Cadot Restaurant. Derry concocted a fried Caesar salad. She added glycerin to the Caesar dressing, froze it, shaped it into balls, and coated them with bread crumbs. The balls were deep-fried. She placed one atop a bed of shredded lettuce so that when you cut into the ball with your fork the dressing spurted out to cover the lettuce. A kind of just-in-time rendition of the classic salad.

Cadot packed his Caesar salad inside an éclair shell. This was not just a clever casing, but also an interesting contrast in flavors.

The Mozzarella Company provided cheese and bread accompaniments and Paciugo offered several flavors of ice cream for dessert.

This year’s event at Union Station was once again organized by volunteers and led by event chair Jackie Glauberman. Attendees also took part in a live and silent auction. Host Scott Murray conducted bidding bid on auction lots consisting of dinners with the chefs and hotel packages. The event was packed and a good time seemed to be had by all.

Chef Jean Marie Cadot of Cadot Restaurant (left); Chef Tiffany Derry of Go Fish Ocean Club Restaurant (at left) with friend

Chef Daniel Nemec of Woodfire Kirby's created Belgian chocolate truffles (left) and an eye-catching Caesar salad (right)
Chef Andre Natera of Pyramid Restaurant in The Fairmont Hotel created Chinese braised pork sandwiches (left); Chef Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Crust wowed crowds with his quail egg-topped Ceasar.
Guests enjoying the culinary treats in the main hall (left) and waiting patiently outside (right)
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