Finally, a day to sleep in a bit. Early mornings and late nights can wear you thin but today is a new day. A quick breakfast of apples with peanut butter and it was off to the shuttle. A short ride from Kissimmee to Celebration and it was time for the Sandwich Competition.
Chef Keoni Simmons, a.k.a. Hungry Chef, of San Diego, CA is one of the competitors in the first round of the Sandwich Competition. He is returning after placing in the Top 10 at the 2014 World Food Championships. The author actually met Chef Keoni after judging his phenomenal Soar’boy Island Po’ boy sandwich last year, which received high ratings from the judges at the table. It was totally out-of-the-box creative and even had the flavors of Hawaii to top it off. In this first round, Keoni will be tasked to make a sandwich using The Kansas City Steak Company’s ribeye in the structured round. In the signature round, he will be recreating his winning dish from last year.
For the structure round, Chef Keoni made the Soar’boy 2.0 “Cheesesteak”. It is brioche bread wrapped around ribeye steak. It is then battered, breaded, fried, and then topped with sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, and a white cheddar horseradish cheese sauce. It is finished with Dijon mustard micro greens. Please see the video in this article to see Keoni build this masterpiece. He scored 95.375, #2 on the scoreboard.
For the signature round, Chef Keoni brought his winning Soar’boy “Island Po’boy” back for another chance for the win. 3 King’s Hawaiian Rolls are kept as one piece, battered in tempura, breaded with panko, and fried. When cooled, it is sliced like a hoagie and stuffed with a mix of sea scallops, crispy pork belly, and shaved red onion all tossed in his secret “Hungry Chef” sauce. It is finished with trout roe and micro cilantro. Please see the video in this article to see Keoni build sandwich of onoliciousness! He scored 81.875 for combined score of 88.625, placing him in 6th place. Since he placed in the top 10, he will be going on to the Top 10 Sandwich Round. Stay tuned!
After a few hours of capturing the action in Kenmore Kitchen Arena, it was time to head back to Westgate Town Center for some lunch and relaxation for a few hours.
In the early afternoon, it was time to head back to Celebration to judge the Burger Competition. No photography or note-taking was allowed during the judging process, but the judges had some beautiful creations and tasty bites to judge from. In the structured round, competitors had to use BUBBA Burger in their burger. The competitors needed to use all their creativity to wow the judges on presentation and taste. In the signature round, competitors could make their signature dish that they may have won in a previous competition, so you know it’s got to be great. All in all, many creative uses and presentations of burgers were submitted, but there can be only one winner of the Burger Competition. Rusty Johnson from Rusty’s BBQ received a final score of 95.125 and his team went on to the Final Table to battle it out against all of the Top 10 winners of Barbeque, Chili, Sandwich, Recipe, Bacon, Dessert, Pasta, Seafood. He came in 3rd overall. Congrats, Rusty!
Gaylord Palms® Resort & Convention Center is a beautiful resort inside and out. The main interior is almost like a tropical island retreat with palm trees, seaside village motif, with restaurants and shops befitting the surroundings. MOOR is all about what is fresh the day you dine. They work with local farmers and fishmongers to procure the freshest, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients around. The dishes are regionally-inspired with a focus on fresh seafood. The dining room is set on the dock and aboard the ship deck of what looks like a ship in port. The setting is so realistic, you forget you are inside a hotel.
Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare ($15) is mixed with wasabi peas, atop fresh watermelon and drizzled with sriracha vinaigrette. The tuna is fresh and flavorful. The wasabi peas add a hint of heat giving it a more Japanese flavor profile. The watermelon, unfortunately, did not really match with the dish. The sweetness made it more “California” rather than focusing on the fresh tuna. The presentation itself was stunning. Rating: 4/5
Blue Crab Lettuce Wraps ($11) is served with mango salsa, radish, and baby onion. This is a fun dish where you can play with your food! Lettuce wraps are an easy way to build your own little wraps to your taste. The blue crab is sweet with a slight briny flavor. The mango salsa adds the right amount of sweetness and acidity to the wrap. Julienned pieces of radish add a textural crunch. Rating: 5/5
Swordfish from Pompano Beach, FL (one of the “Off the Hook Fresh” fish of the day) is served with seasonal risotto. This is one of the juiciest and freshest pieces of swordfish ever. It’s thick cut and the beautiful char from the grill gives it more of a meaty feel, like eating steak. The mushroom risotto is the perfect pairing with a starchy, creamy texture and earthy flavor. Rating: 5/5
Gulf White Shrimp ($32) is sautéed with andouille, brown butter and served with Anson Mills Grits. Great southern flavors come together nicely in this dish. The fresh shrimp easily pops from the tail shell and has the meaty texture of lobster. The andouille adds a little bit of heat and the brown butter yields a sweet, almost caramelized flavor. The grits are out of this world. They are creamy and just the right consistency, not too runny and not too stiff. Rating: 5/5
Key Lime Pie is layered inside of a preserves jar with graham cracker crust, key lime filling, and brûléed meringue on top. The presentation is so cute! The flavors are text-book key lime pie with buttery graham cracker crust, creamy and refreshing key lime filling, and sweet, fluffy meringue. Rating: 4.5/5
Another day of the World Food Championships is just a few hours away. Stay tuned!
For more information:
World Food Championships
Westgate Resorts Town Center Resort & Spa
7700 Westgate Boulevard
Kissimmee, FL 34747
MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
600 West Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, FL 34746, United States