I was ready to rumble when Culinary Fight Night came to town. The thought of an interactive cooking competition with elements of “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” coming to Des Moines was quite an attention grabber. The night it came to town, Chef Mike Holman and Chef Dominic Iannarelli were in the ring. Literally.
The night started off by peering through a couple of doors and seeing a legit boxing ring with loud music playing. My guest, Mark Brant and I started laughing at the sight not because it was silly but because it was so awesome. The minute we got in, we went straight to the ring and checked out the ‘stage’. Chef Mike and Chef Dom has quite the set up. We were saying that this is their “to-go kitchen” which was still better than ours back at home. I guess you need the best when you’re battling!
Along with checking out the ring, I had the chance at meeting one of the judges. Wini Moranville! It was a treat to meet her because I read her articles and am a follower of her on Facebook. Thank to Eat, Play, Love Des Moines for the intro!
Of course, a fight night isn’t complete with necessary intro’s. Check them out:
Chef Dominic Iannarelli:
Chef Mike Holman:
Culinary Fight Night Menu
Boy, were we in for a treat. Culinary Fight Night consists of a 6 course menu. Essentially an appetizer, entree and dessert from each chef.
Fight Night Appetizers
Chef Mike Holman featured Tabasco Seared Scallop, Gingered Sweet Potato Puree, Warm White Chocolate Sauce, Crispy Bacon.
The flavors on this appetizer was so perfect. Even though the bacon pieces were small, they packed a mighty punch of smoked flavor. The sweet potato puree was and outstanding pairing with the scallops. The best part thought was the pieces of ginger. They were prominent and key to making the appetizer bold and unique.
Chef Dominic Iannarelli featured Crispy sugar cane shrimp, raspberries, rocket salad, with a manchego dressing.
The rocket salad was what all of us needed that night. It was cold but the salad took me, and I’m guessing everyone else, to a mindset of spring and summer. The shrimp was simply amazing. Warm with a little fried coating on it. If it was all you can eat, I would’ve gone for 100 more.
Check out what Chef Iannarelli had to say about his appetizer:
Fight Night Entrees
Next came the entrees.
Chef Mike Holman came into the ring with Honey Glazed BBQ Duck, Sesame Seared Baby Bok Choy, with a side of Garlic & Leek Fried Rice.
This may or may not have been my first time having duck but if it was – my gosh – I’m a huge fan. The meat was so tender and fairly lean and not really gamey. The honey was present on piece of fat and the outer edge of the cut. The rice was done really well too. There’s nothing like a homemade fried rice. I discovered that the ultimate flavor combo was to get a piece of the miniature sprouts and duck. Bon Appetite.
Chef Dominic Ianarelli created a Szechuan peppercorn crusted Filet Medallions in a lobster XO sauce and uni risotto.
One thing I was most impressed with this dish was that there were easily 100 people there and to cook a steak perfectly was definitely a round of applause to the chef. It was cooked medium-rare, which to me is perfect. The lobster was a nice touch to a delicious filet.
Fight Night Desserts
As Mark and I were sitting there, I said to him “Do not lean back!” That is is first mistake when eating a multiple course meal. The minute to sit back and relax in your chair you ‘tap out’ (pun intended for the event) and you won’t have any room left for dessert! For this fight night, you definitely wanted room.
Chef Mike Holman whipped up Brown Sugar Glazed Bananas, Orange Coconut Cardamom Ice Cream, Toasted Walnuts, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream.
The best, and most interesting part of this dish was the ice cream. Never have I had or heard of orange coconut cardamom ice cream but it was deep in flavors. The banana, well, we’ll let the picture do the talking. 😉
Chef Dominic Ianarelli created a dessert for the night. It was hot chocolate tiramisu, strawberries & peppermint schnapps.
This was the winner for me in the dessert category (if I was voting). The hot chocolate sauce was rich and the schnapps came in and warmed us up on a cold Des Moines night.
Des Moines Culinary Fight Night Champion
This was an exciting moment. Check out the anticipation.
It was such a close battle.
Congrats to Chef Mike Holman! He won $1,000 and has moved on to the next round in the Midwest.
Not only did Mike Holman win a check, he also earned the glove.
This was one unique and tasty experience. I’m looking forward to see how far Mike can make it. I’m glad Mark could make it with me too.
May your ingredients be fresh and your knives be sharp. – Nick