After months of competing and preparation, six central Arkansas chefs will challenge one another in the finals of the 12th annual Diamond Chef Arkansas competition. It’s the state’s biggest cooking competition, featuring some of the best talent ever to cook in this state. The event is tonight at 6 p.m. at UA – Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in Southwest Little Rock. This year’s final round features a mix of Diamond Chef veterans and new challengers:
- Joseph Coleman – Little Rock Marriott
- Jordan Davis – Chenal Country Club
- Brandon Douglas – Green Leaf Grill
- Amanda Ivy – Low Ivy Catering
- Jamie McAfee – Pine Bluff Country Club
- Izaak Winter – Yaya’s Euro Bistro
Davis, Douglas and McAfee have all reached the finals of this competition before; for Douglas, it represents his third straight appearance in the final round. Davis was last year’s runner-up to Mary Beth Ringgold of Cajun’s Wharf, who became the first woman to repeat as Diamond Chef champion. Only Marc Guizol of The Capital Hotel and Daniel Capello of Chenal Country Club have managed that feat. Ringgold is no longer eligible to compete, though she is filling in as a judge at tonight’s event.
Competitors tonight will compete in two timed rounds of cooking, each with their own secret ingredient. Each chef and their team of two sous chefs will create an original dish featuring the secret ingredient (last year’s secret ingredients: flank steak and rabbit). After the first round, the judges will eliminate three competitors, and the remaining three will cook in the final round.
While watching the chefs cook is reason enough to go, Diamond Chef does have plenty for its audience to enjoy. Wine, beer and cocktails will be available to go alongside food prepared by Pulaski Tech instructors and students. The silent auction is also well worth checking out, as many Little Rock food and beverage businesses contribute some generous items for bidding. And the live auction is a big draw; last year’s auction featured a trip for 10 to Las Vegas. This year, the big item is a stay in a private, luxurious getaway in Nicaragua.
Tickets for the event are still available for $150 each. Those proceeds, as well as that of the auctions, go to support Pulaski Tech’s culinary school and its overall mission.
Photograph is property of UA – Pulaski Technical College.