The 2nd Annual Clash of the Culinary Kings to benefit the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank was even bigger than last year’s event with over 125 in attendance and four Chefs competing for the traveling trophy created by Scott Hamann of Metal Magic. Food Bank supporters were treated to Hors D’oeuvres and locally brewed beverages from ten different vendors across the Kenai Peninsula. Each ticket holder was given a bag of beans with which to vote for their favorite hors d’oeuvre and when the beans were tallied it was Wasabi’s Sushi, Steak & Seafood house from Homer that won the People’s Choice Award. “It was a great surprise and we’re very happy,” said Dali Frazier, general manager of Wasabi’s, who closed the restaurant to bring their staff to compete at the event in Kenai. “We went with a hors d’oeuvres that would be over the top and yet identifiable to everyone’s taste. So we used all local ingredients, salmon for the salmon poke from Kachemak Bay and octopus, which a lot of people are afraid of so we didn’t tell anyone that’s what it was and just said it was a seafood tamale. We are a fusion restaurant at Wasabi’s and we make the world of taste our oyster. We play a lot with different ideas, presentations and tastes, sometimes it goes in the trash and sometimes you get a winner and you go Wow! And run with it. During the winter we change our menu every two weeks and from the most popular creations we create our summer menu of all winners all summer long. We’ll be back to defend our title next year and to support the Food Bank,” said Frazier.
When the Clash got underway four chefs; defending 2015 Champion Daniel Haag of The Flats Bistro, Ashley Steiner of Wasabi’s in Homer, Tyler Hall of Main Street Tap & Grill and Chef Bobbi England of Kenai Catering. The first round was to create an appetizer from the mystery box of ingredients in 20 minutes. Judges Doug Baxter, Jennifer Beckman, Dave Cleveland and Paul Reid were then served the chefs creations and voted their favorite. Round two featured three remaining chefs who had 30 minutes to create an entrée from a mystery box featuring canned chicken. The final two chefs then had 10 minutes to prepare a dessert of ingredients that included fast food French fries and pineapple. After lengthy deliberation by the judges it was Daniel Haag of the Flats Bistro who retained his title of Culinary King and took the traveling trophy for another year home to the Bistro. “The extra round and additional chef made it even more challenging this year,” said the champ in an interview, “It was fun to see ingredients that you’d be likely to see at the Food bank like canned chicken, powdered cheese, coconut milk so it was a fun challenge. It’s fun to be creative and I’m fortunate to work at a restaurant where we have fun creating great meals,” said Haag. “Thank you to all chefs, donors, attendees who attended the second annual Clash of the Culinary Kings! Over 125 individuals attended including individuals from Homer coming to support Wasabis’ chef who closed the restaurant down there so staff could come. We were encouraged by all the children attending this year and thanks to all the venders and sponsors for a successful event. Final numbers of funds raised for the Food Bank were not available.