Chefs Under Fire: Young Chefs Compete at Milestone Culinary for DFW Regional Title

Chefs Under Fire at Milestone Culinary (Photo by Loren J. Root;

Ace contributor Brooklynne Peters files this report from last night’s Chefs Under Fire event at Milestone Culinary Academy:

Last night, more than 100 Dallasites gathered at the Milestone Culinary Arts Center in Dallas to participate in DFW’s very own Hell’s-Kitchen-esque chef competition, Chefs Under Fire.

Chefs Scott Loranc (Central Market Austin), Kevin Martinez (Tokyo Café), Thuy Nguyen (Tarrant County Community College) and Juan Rodriguez (Reata Restaurant) competed against one another for the regional title by preparing the best, most creative dish they could with surprise ingredients, which were revealed to be tile fish, sweet corn, okra and Texas peaches. The winner would continue on to compete in the Chefs Under Fire Final Competition on October 16th in Austin.

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Secret ingredient: golden tilefish (Photo by Loren J. Root;
Secret ingredient: golden tilefish (Photo by Loren J. Root;

“I think it’s a great event,” said attendee Caitlin Cunniff. “It’s a great way to get people from Dallas that are interested in food together, and give some new chefs a chance to showcase themselves.”

The dishes were judged by chefs Tim Byres (Smoke), Katie Natale (Four Seasons Dallas at Las Colinas) and Sharon Van Meter (Milestone Culinary Arts Center). After thoughtfully tasting and questioning each chef about his or her dish, the judges chose Kevin Martinez as the winner.

“Kevin…somehow, seemed to bring all of [those ingredients] together,” said Van Meter. “In the long run, I just think it all worked. It all worked together.”

The winning dish. (Photo by Loren J. Root;

But while the chefs prepared their dishes, chef John Tesar (The Commissary) and sommelier Scott Barber (The Commissary) hosted a special food and wine pairing presentation. Tesar showed the crowd how to prepare braised beef tongue.

“It’s young chefs cooking,” said Tesar. “I wanted to do something unpredictable, inspirational, and also affordable.”

Barber complemented the dish with old world wines, including a 2009 Chateau de Sancerre, a 2007 Selbach-Oster and a 2009 Chateau St. Jean de la Gineste. The class was a huge hit among guests.

The moment of victory for Chef Kevin Martinez, center, of Tokyo Cafe. (Photo by Loren J. Root;
Corn, okra, and peaches. (Photo by Brooklynne Peters)

“I was a little nervous at first with the beef tongue,” said attendee Caitlin Cunniff, “but it ended up being delicious, so I really enjoyed it. When he was first pulling it up out of the pot, and it looked very much like a cow tongue, I didn’t really know what to think, but it was good!”

Others, however, couldn’t be convinced.

“I was thinking of trying the tongue,” said attendee Paula McCollough, “and my husband kind of said ‘No.’”

Make sure to keep an eye on DFW representative chef Kevin Martinez as he continues on to the Chefs Under Fire Finals on October 16th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin. What does Martinez say he’ll be doing to prepare for the final competition?

“Just cooking every day,” said Martinez. “Trying new things.”

The foodie crowd. (Photo by Brooklynne Peters)