And the 2017 Mystery Basket Winner is…

By | March 29th, 2017

On a terrace filled with colleagues who were fully captivated by the action, Blue Hills CC’s Todd Walline won the Mystery Basket competition at the 9th annual Chef to Chef Conference.

On March 6th, 2017, attendees of the 2017 Chef to Chef Conference gathered for a networking reception on the 14th-floor terrace of the Loews Atlanta Hotel to watch four club chefs battle it out in the Conference’s annual Mystery Basket competition.

Participants in this year’s Mystery Basket cook-offs included Brian Coseo, Executive Chef of Sea Pines Country Club, Hilton Head, S.C.; Todd Walline, CEC, CCA, Executive Chef/Director of Food & Beverage of Blue Hills Country Club (pictured above), Kansas City, Mo.; Russell Rosenberg, Executive Chef of the Union League Club of New York (N.Y.); and Micheal Armes, Executive Chef of Hound Ears Club, Boone, N.C.

After the semi-final and final rounds, Walline emerged as the winner, earning a Vitamix blender in the process. The first dish he prepared was an oil-poached and seared cobia with scallops, warm mushrooms and lentils with asparagus and butter-enriched veal glacé. The second was a pan-roasted lamb loin with warm quinoa and black-eyed-pea salad, caramelized baby courgettes and fried purple cauliflower with a pan-reduction sauce.

Rosenberg, who came in second place, won a $250 gift certificate from Triar Seafood.

“I love mystery basket competitions,” says Walline. “I look at them as pop quizzes. Working in private clubs gives chefs’ the opportunity for a pop quiz every day. So mystery baskets are natural extensions of what we do daily.”

The Mystery Basket competition was held after the Conference’s first full day of educational sessions from chef presenters. After the competition and reception concluded, attendees had the evening free to explore Atlanta’s local culinary scene.

“This is my first year coming to Chef to Chef,” continues Walline.  “I came because a number of other club chefs recommended it to me. I’m really glad I did. The ability to go peer to peer and look at some really pertinent subjects like leadership and mentoring has been really great.”

Other networking opportunities during the Conference for attendees, beyond the Monday evening reception and Mystery Basket competition, included Sunday night’s opening reception prior to a plated dinner and the Conference’s keynote address by Michael Leemhuis, CCM, CCE, PGA, President of the Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Fla.; breakfasts, lunches and breaks during each day of Conference sessions; and the popular nightly “Chef to Chef Lounge” where many Conference participants got together to wrap up each day in lively and relaxing fashion.

“The networking at this Conference is so valuable,” says Thayer Johnson, Executive Chef of TPC Stonebrae Country Club (Hayward, Calif.), who won the Mystery Basket Competition at the 2016 Chef to Chef Conference in San Diego. “You get to talk with chefs who are at the peak of their profession, who do the same thing you do and have the same challenges you have.”

The 10th Annual Chef to Chef Conference—and a new Mystery Basket competition—will be held in Seattle, Wash. from March 4-6, 2018. Visit later this year for registration information and other details about the 2018 Conference as they are announced.

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