Press Release

Flavor Forays 24th Annual Event

Grill Masters, A 2023 BBQ story                                                                         

News Provided by Beverly Stephen
May 21, 2023, 09:30 ET

CHICAGO, May 21, 2023  -- Chicago’s best chefs chefs squared off over hot coals at Flavor Forays 24th annual Championship BBQ & Cook-Off while nearly a thousand of the industry’s leading chefs and operators mixed and mingled. The event co-hosted by Flavor Forays in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association show was held May 21 at Galleria Marchetti during the restaurant show in Chicago.  

Barnum & Bailey had nothing on Chef Katsuji Tanabe who entertained with Dragon’s Breath Sweet and Spicy Pop Corn. A surprise appearance by Chicago Breakfast Queen Ina Pinkney delighted guests.

D’Andre Carter (Soul & Smoke) walked away with the grand prize, a choice of a Kamado Joe Ceramic Grill or a Master Built Digital Smoker, generously donated by Jade Range. He pleased the crowd with his pastrami burnt ends with chow chow gold sauce.

Devin Kreller (Wood) claimed the Smithey Ironware cast iron skillets first runner up prize for his smoked beef belly with lotus root, nouc cham, basil, peanuts, and lime.

Marcos Ascencio (Taqueria Chingon) took home the second runner up prize, an iSi nitro brew, for his cod al pastor tacos with grilled pineapple and salsa cruda.

Aaron Bickham (Bartolotta Restaurants, Milwaukee) had the crowds wowed with his sockeye salmon grilling suspended on vertical planks Norwegian style. He plans to use this presentation in an upcoming beer garden. His best décor was rewarded with a case of BBQ sparkling Portuguese wine.

There were so many delicious dishes the judges had a hard time selecting winners. Thanks to all the other champion chefs who donated their time and talents. They’re all winners in our book: Andrew Zimmerman (Proxi), Chris Thompson (Union),

Martial Noguier (Bistronomic), Michael Lanzerotte (Testaccio/Osteria Langhe), Chris Curren (The Graceful Ordinary, St. Charles, ILL), Stuart Race (Adamus Restaurant and Lounge at Silversmith Hotel)

Sponsors got in on the cooking as well. Chef Guy Meikle grilled Chairman’s Reserve garlic crusted striploin with creamy horseradish sauce and beet puree. Gills Onions served caramelized onion elote en vaso topped with sweet pickled red pickled onion. Sterling Silver Tomahawk was basted in cowboy butter with crispy potatoes and micro greens.

Mexican street corn featuring Lamb Weston® Seasoned CrissCut® Skin-On Original Recipe and Private Reserve Chips Skin-On partnered with Bunge Oil.

Dishes were all paired with BBQ Wine Portuguese sparkling, J. Lohr wines, Constellation Brands beers, Beam Suntory cocktails shaken or stirred with Fever Tree premium mixers, and a variety of Nestle Premium Water. Sweet Street provided a bountiful table of desserts. It was all for a good cause--World Central Kitchen, an international hunger relief organization led by chef/humanitarian José Andrés and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank. Barbara Mathias, former Food Arts publisher, founded the event two decades ago and continues to produce it along with her colleague Beverly Stephen, former executive editor of Food Arts under the aegis of their company Flavor Forays.

The following sponsors make the BBQ possible: Alaska Seafood, BBQ Wine, Beam Suntory, Cargill Sterling Silver and TNT Burger, CHEFtog, Constellation Brands, Fever Tree, iSi, J. Lohr, Jade Range, Lamb Weston,  Nestle Premium Waters,  Sweet Street, Tyson Chairman’s Reserve, VerTerra.

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