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Sept. 24, 2022

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Chefs feel the heat in cooking competition

Local ingredients, chefs paired for a tasty showdown

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter
6 Photos
Michael Garofalo, executive chef at Heathen Brewing Feral Public House, competes at the Extreme Food Fights cooking competition at WareHouse ‘23.
Michael Garofalo, executive chef at Heathen Brewing Feral Public House, competes at the Extreme Food Fights cooking competition at WareHouse ‘23. Photo Gallery

In the first round of the Extreme Food Fight competition Sunday, chefs Michael Garofalo and Carl Henderson were asked to cook some bacon.

Not too tall an order for the executive chefs of Heathen Brewing Feral Public House and The Grant House, respectively.

But they had to do it in 10 minutes.

Actually, celebrity chef and emcee Chef Amadeus said, grinning, how about just 8 minutes? With root beer as another required ingredient?

“It is so much fun, because they’re really good at what they do in a perfect kitchen,” Amadeus said. “I want to see the chefs sweat.”

With less than 3 minutes left, he granted the chefs the mercy of 2 more minutes, but included the condition they add some tahini paste and coconut milk, to the delight of the crowd watching the action at Warehouse ’23

Chef Amadeus won the Food Network’s Extreme Chef Mexican Showdown in 2012 and travels the country working as a private chef, giving private lessons and hosting his Extreme Food Fight competition.

On Sunday, as at the other shows, the participating chefs are all local, use local ingredients, compete head-to-head and have no clue what they might be cooking.

Along with Garofalo and Henderson, the competing chefs were Bonnie Brasure, executive chef at Bleu Door Bakery; Peter Dougherty, chef and owner at La Bottega; Cory Hoekstra, executive chef at Ilani’s Michael Jordan’s Steak House; and Chyal Politowski, sous chef at Warehouse ’23.

“Basically ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ and ‘Chopped’ have a spin-off show,” said Aaron Guerra, who organized Sunday’s competition and is executive chef at Clark College’s culinary program.

Guerra and Amadeus worked together with the Bite of Oregon food festival and other projects years ago.

Guerra wanted to organize a cooking competition to help local farmers better connect with local restaurants, with proceeds to go to charity. This year’s charity was the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Washington.

Considering one of Amadeus’s ongoing projects is connecting farmers and chefs, and that he went to the Jacksonville, Fla., Boys Club as a child, it was an easy marriage, Guerra said.

That Mark Matthias, the owner of WareHouse ’23, is a big Boys and Girls Club booster also helped, Guerra added.

More than 20 sponsors, many of whom sell at local farmers markets, joined to support the event and provide food. Guerra said he hopes to turn the competition into a regular event.

Brasure and Politowski faced off in the final round Sunday, with Brasure winning in a contest that had the chefs work with pork tongue and beef heart.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter

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