At the first Clash of the Culinary Kings for the benefit of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, Flats Bistro Chef Daniel Haag was the last king standing. The youngest chef in the Clash contest Haag is a self-taught chef born in Sholo, Arizona, grew up in Washington and Oregon and has been in Alaska for 6 years. Haag was very pleased at the judge’s decision and said he hopes to defend his title next year. Clashing with Haag, was Paul Warner of the Alaska Supper Club in Ninilchik where he and his wife Angela provide up to twelve four to five course gourmet course meals per day. Rounding out the trio of culinary wizards was Steve England, owner of Kenai Catering, who says he has had a love affair with food since he was five. “It all started with pancakes and got bigger and better from there,” wrote Steve in his bio.
The timed event commenced after the seventy some guests had dined on a variety of hors d’oeuvres provided by thirteen some providers for the evening. At 7:00pm the chefs got their first look at the mystery box of raw ingredients and given 45 minutes to create an entrée to be presented to the judge’s. The panel of pallet experts were Paul Reid, former owner of the New Sagaya Market in Anchorage who now lives in Soldotna, Cathy Horn food service professional from Mykel’s Restaurant and State running champion Alli Ostrander who judged the entrees based on taste, creativity and presentation.
Attendees at the Clash got to vote on their favorite hors d’oeuvres by placing a lima bean in a jar in front of the selection. When the beans were counted it was new Porter House Grill in Sterling who won the people’s choice.
While the clock ticked and the chefs worked away creating their rock fish entrée, the audience participated in a lively round of trivia for fun and prizes. When the time was up the judges selected their top two kings to progress to the dessert round and Steve England and Daniel Haag found themselves opening the next mystery box which contained among other things quail eggs, dried cranberries and some Pillsbury Poppin’ fresh raw dough. Twenty minutes later the judges had their dessert and crowned Haag the Clash King for 2015. Linda Swarner presented the traveling trophy, created by Scott Hamann of Metal Magic, and thanked everyone for attending this new fund raising event for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.