Purplish with pride, a jubilant Jeremy Barlow took home the coveted Golden Fork at last night's Iron Fork, the Scene's second annual culinary showdown. The chef/owner of tayst restaurant and his sous chef "Destroyer" wowed a panel of judges with their treatment of the secret ingredient--purple asparagus.
Team tayst put forth a triptych of asparagus tips served with bacon-caramel sauce and lardons, blood orange foam and quinoa with strawberries. For a second dish, Barlow delivered marinated flank steak over two purple spears, plated with a bowl of tobacco-smoked potato puree in a bath of cool asparagus soup.
Judges Deb Paquette of Zola, Joseph Kirkland of Le Creuset, Brian Diller from St. Luke's Community House, Merijoy Lantz Rucker from Whole Foods and culinary consultant Freddy Brooker praised Barlow's creation for its elegant presentation and creative integration of the secret ingredient.
Picked yesterday afternoon at Delvin Farms, the purple asparagus has a fresh crunch some tasters likened to a daikon radish, and is sweeter than regular green asparagus.
The Scene's second annual Iron Fork filled the Country Music Hall of Fame with spectators who watched the action of Kitchen Coliseum while tasting food from some of Nashville's best restaurants.
Contestants Jason Love of Ombi: A Gastropub, Bart Pickens of Saffire, Guerry McComas of Yellow Porch and Tandy Wilson of City House, along with Barlow, put on a memorable show, delivering exquisite meals in under one hour. Chefs showcased purple asparagus in a range of dishes that included asparagus slaw, soup and risotto, paired with tuna, halibut, pork tenderloin.
If there were a prize for fastest chef, it would likely go to Love & Co. who lapped the competition to get Ombi's creation to the judges first. Bart Pickens brought the best cheering section, with legions of fans in "I heart Bart" T-shirts. Guerry McComas and Team Yellow Porch remained as cool under pressure as the blanched purple asparagus and spaetzle chilling in their ice bath. And Tandy Wilson made a stunning twist on breakfast with his soft-poached egg with chorizo breadcrumbs over a raft of asparagus.
Barlow takes the Golden Fork from last year's champion, Deb Paquette. Along with the trophy, he gets to keep the Le Creuset cookware he used last night. The remaining four sets will go to a local culinary arts program.
If you have any doubts about attending next year, this should settle them.