The Battle of the Parks, an annual fund-raising competition that pits three of the area’s top chefs in a cook-off, was held Sunday outside Beacon restaurant at the Sanctuary condominiums.
Watch the exclusive video.
The Parks in question are Thornton Park, College Park and Winter Park. Representing each area respectively were: Jephanie Foster, Graze; Kevin Fonzo, K Restaurant Wine Bar; and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig.
The afternoon-long event started with a walk-about food and wine tasting from a handful of restaurants. Then, master sommelier George Miliotes emceed a blind tasting competition among the wine stewards from each of the three restaurants. Lee Kaleel represented Ravenous Pig, and Marty McArtt sipped for Graze. Fonzo was a last minute replacement for his manager, wine expert Dan Francoforte, who was hospitalized last week with an undisclosed illness. Depsite the 11th hour replacement, Fonzo took top honors there.
He then took his place behind the outdoor cooking stations with his co-competitors. The three were told the main ingredient would be beef, including Kobe, and had 40 minutes to prepare three courses for the panel of judges, which included Miliotes, Heather McPherson of the Orlando Sentinel, and me.
The judging was very close. In fact, my ballot showed a tie between Graze and the Pig (K lost some points for creativity although all three came up with excellent, tasty preparations).
This was a really fun event, and I was honored to be a part of it. Battle of the Parks was organized by Linda Sullivan, a veritable Wonder Woman of wine, with Noble Wine Estates. Along with Noble, sponsors included Gary’s Seafood, Culinary Classics, Waterkist Farms, Deking of Hearts Fresh Hearts of Palm, Gourmet Foods International and Southeast Steel and Viking, which provided the cooking stations.
Here’s a video of how the afternoon went.