Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seafood Cookoff at Westin Copley

Richard Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie and Jacqueline Church of The Leather District Gourmet joined me last weekend to serve on the judging panel for the Seafood Cookoff at the Westin Copley hotel. Our goal was to pick the winner and, ultimately, choose the next recipe for the hotel restaurant: Turner Fisheries. It also included a tour of their fantastic kitchens and an afternoon of fun and many new friends enthusiastic about great food.

Israa Muezzin entered with her recipe: Cod with Onion Lemon Sauce.

Fina Coxe entered the contest with her recipe: New England Seafood Salad, which she described as chowder and salad together. Fiona is also the author of A Boston Food Diary.

Dave Copeland entered the competition with his recipe: Mussels with Chipotle Pesto.

I took a few moments to look over the ingredients at each Chef station and everything seemed to be the ultimate in quality and freshness.

The peppered scallops waiting to be cooked up for Fiona's salad.

Our tour of the incredible kitchen facilities and operation was led by Executive Sous Chef Chad Kennedy, who also served with us on the judging panel.

The kitchen at the Westin Copley is easily the most massive I have ever been in and must be the largest in Boston. This does not even include a second kitchen or the kitchens at Turner Fisheries!

Here are the huge kettles used to cook up that world famous New England Clam Chowder. Turner Fisheries has won 1st Prize at The Chowderfest so many times that they are no longer allowed to compete but are proud to be in the Hall Of Fame.

Here is one of the vats which had just been used to boil up some chicken stock.

In the pastry section I had happy memories of my 12 hour days working at the bakery when I saw these familiar Hobart mixers.

The tour included a brief stop at this cutting-edge oven from Germany called: The Rational. It's basically a self-cooking oven. It controls temperature, moisture, doneness and everything else via a USB port you plug in. Just explain what you want and it cooks it for you.

Using this oven was so interactive-friendly that I immediately dubbed it the "Smart Oven." The cost for this new technology: $25,000 per unit.

After the tour it was back to the line to watch the contestants and their assistants finish off their dishes.

David Copeland finishing off his presentation plates.

Dave's dish was Mussels with Chipotle Pesto. The smokiness of the pesto was an instant flavor sensation with the judges. All of us agreed that it was an inventive new twist to the typical garlic and herbs.

Israa presenting her dish.

Israa's Cod with Onion Lemon Sauce. A beautiful presentation and and my personal favorite. I had never tasted the combination of lemon and onion in this way and thought the execution was perfect, a delicate balance and a very clean taste. The others thought that maybe rice and cod was not quite innovative.

Fiona presenting her dish. This recipe had definitely intrigued me the most when I read it.

Fiona's dish was a very ambitious New England Seafood Salad. With many ingredients and flavors the judges felt it was, perhaps, too many. We were also expecting a flavorful, creamy dressing or vinaigrette. I thought some texture, maybe carmelized scallops, or a frisee that could withstand a heavy sauce, would have improved the plate.

The winners: 3rd Place went to Fiona Coxe, 2nd Place to Israa Muezzin and the winner is ... Dave Copeland for his amazing Mussels with Chipotle Pesto.

The winners were presented with their prizes which included some very nice cookware packages as well as very generous gift certificates. Dave Copeland's recipe will be the latest new addition to the menu at Turner Fisheries at the Copley Westin!

Here is the winning recipe:

This is a favorite week night meal that can be served as a first course or as a meal when paired with crusty bread and a salad. It’s my own variation/combination of several different recipes.

3-4 chipolte peppers in Adobo sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (reserve 2 TB)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 TB pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups dry white wine
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
2 teaspoons honey

1. Coarsely chop chipolte peppers and put them in a food processor or blender with cilantro, garlic and pine nuts. Process until smooth, then slowly add olive oil with the motor running. When emulsified, season with salt and pepper. The pesto can be made up to a day in advance.
2. Bring the wine to a boil in a large pot. Add the mussels and steam until opened, about 3-5 minutes.Use a slotted spoon to move the mussels to a serving bowl, discarding any unopened mussels.
3. Return wine and cooking liquid to a boil and reduce by half (about 10 minutes). Whisk in pesto and honey. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the left over cilantro.
4. Pour the mixture over the mussels and serve immediately.

Turner Fisheries
The Westin Copley Place
10 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
Telephone: 617.351.7433

1 comment:

  1. I was asked to judge this event but I passed since I knew one of the contestants. I love hearing your honest opinions and perhaps the salad could have used a little better presentation?