I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. As you can always tell, all thoughts and opinions expressed on this here blog are my own.
While taking time off from building on our home site, I took a bit of a drive (from our soon to be home) to Skokie, Il to attend Macy’s Sizzling Showdown #GrillingGuru competition, and I had a blast! Mr. Houseful and I are big fans of the grill year round, and we love being able to try new things, and this competition really set me up to want to grill each and every summery day this year!
Hosted by Steve Dolinsky of Hungry Hound and judged by Chef Michelle Bernstein who sits on Macy’s Culinary Council, the event was full of sights, scents and sizzles! There were three competitors who each had an hour to create a grilled dish that was to be tasted and judged by Chef Bernstein. They all wanted to be crowned Grilling Guru of the day! She admitted that while she could appreciate the aesthetic quality of nicely plated dishes, she was going to rely on her good ol’ taste buds to declare a winner. The three contestants submitted these three dishes; Grilled Chicken Adobo with Charred Corn Salad, Kentucky Beer Cheese Burgers, and Pesto Citrus Proscuitto Grilled Shrimp with Red Quinoa and Fruit Salsa. While she and everyone else seemed to be super impressed with the Kentucky Beer Cheese Burger, the winner actually ended up being someone who surprised both Chef Bernstein AND the audience. First though, let’s share what WE got to eat.
Throughout the competition, audience members were challenged by Macy’s trivia and food prepared from recipes of Bernstein. We were regaled with her Grilled Corn on the Cob with Ancho Chile Butter, and her sticky sweet almost hot wings. The corn reminds me of the street vendors here in Chicago who serve elotes, but with more of a gourmet flair.
Here’s that famous Kentucky Beer Cheese Burger that Chef Bernstein made look SO GOOD! Even Steve Dolinksy had to snag a bite to comment on how great it tasted. The entrant stated that the key to a great burger was to make sure that you found ground beef with a higher fat content, since that is where the flavor was. It’s also something that rang true from my days as an Illinois Farm Mom. The cattle farmer stated that lean beef isn’t always the tastiest because you need those flecks of flavor.
Before submitting her winner, Chef Bernstein made sure that she hit on all of the great qualities of each entry. She commented what she expected come about from each entrants dish, and how she was surprised with it didn’t happen. For instance, she was worried that the chicken breast used for the Grilled Chicken Adobo dish may come back dried out because so many who grill will overcook their chicken.
However, the winner of the day happened to be Sonya Nelson Goergen who submitted a Proscuitto wrapped Shrimp dish, that had so many elements that it worried Bernstein. Apparently, it wasn’t enough as she chose it as the champion for the day stating that all of the flavors meshed well. She described it as a marriage in the mouth of flavors. I mean, can you beat that? Great tips were given to those of us who love to grill, and those who are a little intimidated from the grilling. One of the key things stated over and over again, was to not overcook your meats. Let them cook on the grill, and only flip once (you’ll know you can flip when the meat releases from the grill itself, not you having to pry it) and slightly undercook your food so that it can finish cooking after being removed from the grill and resting. Do you have great grilling tips to share?
Congrats to Sonya, and I wish her a great competition in New York City, where she will go head to head, or grill to grill, with other regional winners across the state. To keep up with the competition, follow #GrillingGuru and Macy’s on Twitter!