A year ago a light-hearted “what if” conversation between Bill Taibe – owner/chef of Jesup Hall, Kawi Ni, and The Whelk – and Lori Cochran-Dougall – executive director of the Westport Farmers’ Market –became the talk of the foodie circuit in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The Westport Farmers’ Market’s Chef-at-the-Market competition challenges our best chefs to a cookoff on a budget ($20).
“The ‘Chef-at-the-Market Competition’ showcases what the Westport Farmers’ Market is all about - utilizing and supporting our local producers, “ said Bill Taibe, chair/organizer of the WFM program. “It’s also a festive way for chefs to get in front of their customers in a hands-on quick competition. Plus, let’s admit it-competition is fun!”
The competition works like this: Beginning May 30 and thereafter on the third Thursday of every month through October, three chefs from local restaurants compete. Each gets $20 and 45 minutes to shop from vendors at the market plus create an appetizer-sized dish.
Volunteer judges, selected at random from shoppers that day, will select one winner who will move on to the next round. The top two chefs from the semi-final round will meet at the final competition in October where and when to be announced.
Chef contestants will be judged on:
1. Their use of market products
2. Taste of the dish
3. Cleanliness and presentation of their entry, and
4. Originality of recipe
Participants – all of whom volunteered are:
1. Jeff Taibe, Taproot (2018 Champion)
2. Anthony Kostelis, The Whelk
3. Anthony Rinaldi, Kawa Ni
4. Dan Kardos, Oar & Oak/Liberty Rock Tavern
5. Jes Bengston, Terrain
6. Ben Freemole, The Inn & GrayBarns
7. Emily Mingrone, Tavern on State
8. Adam Roytman, BarSugo
9. Jay LeBlanc, Knot Norm’s
10. Carlos Baez, The Spread/El Segundo
11. Matt Storch, Match/Match Burger & Lobster
12. David Guimareas, Milestone
“This competition is brilliant!” said Lori Cochran-Dougall. “Our food community looks for ways to connect and this one happens to support the market – which I love. It is fun and the competition gets steep. Personally, I love how excited the viewers get and the questions that stem from the event - not to mention they do all of this for $20.”
The first competition will be held May 30 from 10:15 – 11:00 at the WFM. Bring your family and friends, and root for your favorite local restauranteur!