The clash of the rock shrimp enchiladas in Sailfish Point Country Club’s “cook-off.”
Certain that his rock shrimp enchiladas would trump any other version of the dish, Edward Dickens, the Executive Sous Chef at Sailfish Point Country Club, Stuart, Fla., challenged his colleague, Executive Pastry Chef Charles Rosselli, to a “cook-off” to see whose interpretation, served with a sweet corn sauce, would be deemed the tastiest in a blind judging by three of the club’s Board members.
“We chose a typically slower evening in our formal dining room, in an effort to increase traffic,” says Doug Anderson, Assistant General Manager, about the setup for the event. “After the challenge was made, we sat down as a team to discuss the logistics. We wanted it to be interactive and similar to the Food Network show, ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay.’ ” (On that show, celebrity chef Flay challenges cooks renowned for a specific dish to a cook-off of their signature item. During the competition, both chefs prepare their versions for a crowd of locals, and are then evaluated in a blind taste test by three local judges to determine the winner.)
Once Sailfish Point CC ironed out all the details of its version, members were e-mailed and posters about the cook-off were circulated around the club. Anticipating between 80 and 100 attendees, the club ultimately had reservations for 175 members.
For Chefs Rosselli and Dickens, the pressure was on.
|THE GOAL: Develop a creative culinary event to generate more traffic in Sailfish Point CC’s formal dining room on a slower evening.
THE PLAN: Executive Sous Chef Edward Dickens challenged Executive Pastry Chef Charles Rosselli to a “cook-off” that would be run similar to the Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” where Flay challenges a local chef to create the best variation of the same dish. Dickens chose the dish—Rock Shrimp Enchiladas with a Sweet Corn Sauce—and both contestants set up action stations for members to watch them work and taste their creations. Each dish was then blindly judged by three of the club’s Board members, and a winner was chosen.
THE PAYOFF: The club expected about 80-100 members to attend the event, but 175 came to cheer on the chefs. There are now plans to make the cook-off an annual culinary event.
The evening started with cocktails and small-plate food stations. Meanwhile, the chefs prepared their versions of the rock shrimp enchiladas. Members were able to watch the chefs work, complete with commentary, and sample each of their dishes.
Sailfish Point CC supplemented the two stations with four other action stations, so members would have enough substance to make a meal out of the event. “In addition, we handed out ballots to each of the members, to select the ‘People’s Choice Award,’ ” says Anderson.
The entire staff was very enthusiastic in the days leading up to the event, with many picking sides and making friendly wagers. (Two staff members even made a bet that the loser of the bet would have to do the other one’s side work for an entire week.)
When judgment time came, the challenger, Dickens, had his dish picked by the judges, while the challenger, Rosselli, took the People’s Choice award.
“We had it planned out pretty well, so we didn’t run into many challenges,” says Anderson. “Our goals at Sailfish Point are to continue to present fresh and different events to keep the membership energized and using the club. This was a lowcost event for us, which in turn made it very affordable for the members. We filled the dining room on an evening that would typically be empty.”
View Executive Pastry Chef Charles Rosselli’s recipe for Shrimp Enchilada with Corona lime Zabaglione
View Executive Sous Chef Edward Dickens’ recipe for Shrimp Enchiladas with a Southwestern Corn Sauce