ℹ Chattanooga Market‘s annual ℹ FiveStar Food Fight is a battle of wits, creativity and timing between five local chefs, most of whom are no stranger to tense competitions in the food contest circuit. The fight begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 15th at ℹ First Tennessee Pavilion and this year, it’s all about chicken as the 2018 sponsor is ℹ Springer Mountain Farms.
Among the things judges will be looking for are creativity and how they’ve incorporated items they’ve picked up from the market’s farm vendors into their dishes. Here’s a look at the chefs who will be heating things up on market Sunday in hopes of taking home the trophy and, better yet, getting a ticket to participate in the 2018 World Food Championship scheduled of November 2018 in Orange Beach, Ala. Come back daily to see who our featured chef will be.
Chicken is a mainstay on most every menu, so when trying to impress a panel of judges, all known for their expertise and love of food, ℹ Hardin Cowan, executive chef at ℹ The Dwell Hotel‘s new restaurant, Solarium, says it’s all about the techniques he uses to impart the best flavor to whatever chicken dish he prepares.
“I don’t worry that much about trying to make something really different. I’m kind of an oddball to begin with,” he says. “But hopefully there will be several ingredients the morning of the contest that inspire me.”
Fresh herbs are one of the things he’ll be looking for. “I tend to combine a lot of herbs,” he says. “I guess my favorite, though, would be thyme. I love its subtlety and the different ways to use it. There’s a strong possibility it will end up in my dish.”
Cowan says one of the most-popular dishes at Solarium is the curried chicken sandwich on Niedlov sourdough bread. But at home, his favorite use of chicken is a Sunday tradition. He splits a whole bird in half and smokes it on his grill with hickory chips. And as a regular attendee of the Chattanooga Market, he says having a myriad of fresh vegetables from local farmers “makes our Sundays even better.”
Cowan, a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City, is no stranger to food contests. He’s been a part of many and was recently honored with Springer Mountain Farms’ Celebrate the Chef Award. The award is presented to a select handful of chefs that demonstrate culinary excellence, consistency in the dining experience and a commitment to the use of fresh and local ingredients. And if he wins this fight?
“It would be an honor to represent Chattanooga. Our culinary scene is legit,” he says.