It was a matchup that pitted a seasoned master of the culinary arts against a student who is just taking the first step in her journey to becoming a chef.
However, it was youth that prevailed in the opening round, as the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge kicked off it’s second annual event on Tuesday at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen.
Lindsey Waugh (Hot Shots Cafe) and her Turkey Chickpea with Brazilian Flavours won by the slimmest of margins at 33-32 votes over Doug Wagner (St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino) who challenged with a Snack Pack Chilli.
What makes the significance of the Snack Pack, you ask?
Each chef brought a mystery ingredient that the other chef must use in their soup or pay up $50 to get out of using that particular item.
Waugh thought her Snack Pack pudding might be just the trick to throw Wagner off his game, however, the chocolate-based pudding was actually a helpful ingredient towards getting to the final produce of his chilli.
“As soon as I saw the pudding, and I saw that it was chocolate, I know that I always finish chilli and really heavy tomato soups with chocolate, so immediately, I figured, ‘I could use this’,” Wagner said. “I think it turned out really good, using the chocolate.”
Wagner received five extra votes for his use of Waugh’s mystery ingredients, but it still came down to a loss by a single vote between the two chefs.
For her part, Waugh took the advice of her instructor at the College of the Rockies, Chef Tim Curnow, who suggested the pudding as an ingredient that could ruin a soup.
“Apparently pudding doesn’t ruin a soup,” joked Waugh. “I’ve learned my lesson…It was fun.”
Wagner presented some tuna as his mystery ingredient that Waugh had to use in her soup, however, she opted to pay the fine to get out of using it.
She had an idea of what kind of soup she wanted to make before coming into the soup kitchen, but it wasn’t until she started hunting for ingredients that she knew it could be a challenge.
“I knew I wanted to make a Brazilian-style soup, which my main ingredients would be coriander, orange juice and cumin,” Waugh said. “They had a tiny little bit, maybe a teaspoon, of cumin, no coriander and Five Alive.
“So, I knew I had to come up with something else really quick.”
However, some taco seasoning seemed to do the trick, and it was off to the rest of the kitchen stores from there to gather vegetables, turkey and the rest of the ingredients.
“It was super nerve-wracking, but I had fun,” Waugh said. “Once I got going, I figured I’ll just try to do the best job I can and that’s all I can ask for. It was such an honour to work with Doug, too, because he’s such a great chef.”
A few things are vital to making a good chilli—even if it includes some chocolate pudding, said Wagner.
“It’s just the richness and the body,” he said. “I didn’t tell everybody out there, but it’s a pure vegetarian chilli, so I didn’t want to push the vegetarian because I didn’t want to lose votes on the fact that there was no meat.
“But if you can make a good hearty chilli on the background and really build those flavours, you can’t even tell what’s missing.”
Wagner, who participated in the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge last year, knew what he had to work with in terms of expected items and the facility, however, he was intrigued by the twist of the mystery ingredient and spent a lot of time thinking about how he could use anything that might be thrown at him.
“So, with the secret ingredient round, I kind of figured, if I’m thinking these ingredients are going to be evil, then everybody else is, so I spent a lot of time trying to think of ways to use tuna or black olives or pitted cherries and all sorts of the horrible things you’d never put in soups,” Wagner said. “So I think the pudding was quite a pleasant surprise.”
Next up for the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge is Graham Barnes of Max’s Place, who will be up against David D. Hull, a celebrity amateur chef and executive director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce.
The two will go head to head on Thursday, Feb. 18th, at the Salvation Army soup kitchen.