2015 Big Sur Foragers Festival Fungus Face Off Results

A winning dish from Carmel Valley Ranch with chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms plus short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes, courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch Facebook page

A winning dish from Carmel Valley Ranch with chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms plus short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes, courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch Facebook page

If you’re curious who won the Fungus Face Off at last weekend’s Big Sur Foragers Festival, I have the results. If you’re not familiar with the festival, it’s an annual weekend of gourmet food, first-rate wine and beer, entertainment, expert-led foraging hikes and the Fungus Face Off that is described as a “friendly chef competition with celebrity judges.” The event also raises funds for the Big Sur Health Center. This year’s Big Sur Foragers Festival raised more than $30,000.

For the Face Off, celebrity judges included Jim Dodge, Mike Hale of the Monterey Herald, Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, and Wendy Brodie. Attendees had an opportunity to taste along with the judges and to cast their vote for “People’s Choice.” Participating restaurants were The Restaurant at Ventana Inn Executive Chef Paul Corsentino, Chef Sean Garrett, Fernwood, Chef Johnny DeVivo, Porter’s in the Forest at Poppy Hills, Chef Phillip Burrus, Esalen, Chef Tim Wood, Carmel Valley Ranch, Chef Evan Lite, The Beach House at Lover’s Point; Chef Brendan Esons, Big Sur Roadhouse; Chef Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro / Baker’s Bacon and Chef Steve Johnson and Mike Behan, TusCA Ristorante at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.

Here are the Face Off results:

Winner of Best Dish Using Wine and People’s Choice Award Winner: Carmel Valley Ranch
Chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms with short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes

Winner of Dish Most Easily Adapted to Home Cooking: The Beach House at Lovers Point
Mushroom and pork Suigow with shitake, oyster, porcini and portabella mushrooms with a truffle soy butter

Winner of Most Nutritious and Healthy: Big Sur Roadhouse
Drinks with a variety of marinated wild mushrooms (Drinks include Wood Sorrel Ale; Huckleberry Fizz with Big Sur Spring Water and Pine Needle Bay Laurel and Spearmint Tea with Big Sur Honey)

Winner of Best Use of Local Ingredients: The Restaurant at Ventana
Candy Cap mushroom ravioli fried with chanterelle mushrooms, black truffle puree in a chanterelle mushroom broth with pickled chanterelles

Winner of Most Inventive Use of Ingredients: Porter’s in the Forest
Mushrooms 5 ways:  Pine nut aioli, fried lentil, burnt meringue (Mushrooms were pickled, roasted and sautéed and finished with chili sea salt)

Winner of Best Cooking Technique: Fernwood
Pork and chanterelle meatloaf with chanterelle butter gravy and a lemon microgreen salad  (The meatloaf was made with 4 kinds of pork and Fernwood house made bacon)

Winner of Best Vegetarian Dish: Esalen
Wild fennel salad with Esalen garden herbs, puree of Coke Farm celery root and pickled chanterelles

Winner of Best Table Display: Big Sur Bakery
Mushroom puppies with pate and Choux puffs with black trumpets, wild rice and hints of Umeboshi

Winner of Judges Pick for Best Overall: Montrio and Bakers Bacon
Black trumpet mushroom tart, dock candy cap jelly, Foie Gras parfait, Bakers Bacon and pine needle syrup

Winner of Dish with Most Complex Flavors: TusCA Ristorante Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa 
Sea scallop with coconut carrot broth, roasted shitake mushrooms, fresh Enoki mushrooms, lime caviar as well as a Thai basil leaf

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