DeAndre Smith won this year’s Channel Your Inner Chef competition in an exciting finale at Chicago O’Hare International, bringing F&B to the fore at the airport and offering a platform for aspiring chefs.
Magic moment: DeAndre Smith celebrates being named the winner of Channel Your Inner Chef 2019.
“Channel Your Inner Chef is unique not just as the original airport cook-off event, but in that it offers a platform for diverse chefs regardless of background to showcase their enthusiasm and culinary talent in front of a jet-setting audience.”
That’s how HMSHost President and CEO Steve Johnson describes the appeal of culinary competition Channel Your Inner Chef, which is now in its fifth year and is run in partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Four aspiring chefs took part in a live cooking contest at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Terminal 2 in front of travellers, airport and airline employees.
Boiling point: The 2019 contestants participated in a 30-minute cook-off contest in Terminal 2.
During an “unscripted” 30-minute cook-off, the finalists from across the USA were challenged with creating an original recipe from ingredients revealed to them only at the start of the event. They also chose their own ingredient from the O’Hare Urban Garden in Terminal 3.
DeAndre Smith won the competition, creating a pan seared chicken breast with a brown sugar glaze. His dish featured pickled rainbow carrots with Fresno peppers, fresh lemongrass, ginger and rice wine vinegar, along with a yam purée and flash fried kale.
As the 2019 Channel Your Inner Chef winner, Smith’s dish will be featured on the menu of an HMSHost-operated restaurant at O’Hare. He also receives a roundtrip airfare for two, as well as a VIP experience for two, to attend the James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Stepping up to the plate: DeAndre Smith created a pan seared chicken breast with a brown sugar glaze. It will be featured on the menu of an HMSHost-operated restaurant at O’Hare.
The competition’s judging panel based their winning selection criteria on recipe, presentation, showmanship, and taste. The panel consisted of: Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee; Alderman of the 19th Ward of Chicago and Aviation Committee Chairman Matt O’Shea; Alderman of the 36th Ward of Chicago Gilbert Villegas; One Off Hospitality Chef/Partner Paul Kahan; American Master Sommelier and restaurateur Alpana Singh; and ABC 7 Chicago’s Windy City LIVE co-host Ryan Chiaverini.
The spectacular event, held in late March, was topped off with a live dance performance by Hiplet, supported by Dj Gemini Jones, along with food & beverage tastings from HMSHost-operated restaurants at Chicago O’Hare.
Sense of theatre: The event took place in Terminal 2 in front of travellers, airport and airline employees.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this annual event that opens up O’Hare International Airport for aspiring young chefs to showcase their talents amid the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest airports in the world,” concluded Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee.
“Congratulations to all of the chefs who participated in this year’s Channel Your Inner Chef competition. Events like these provide a unique opportunity to welcome Chicago’s diverse communities into our airport and to celebrate the delicious, local culinary fare that our O’Hare restaurants are serving up for travellers every day.”
Recipe for success: DeAndre Smith with the previous winners of the Channel Your Inner Chef competition (above), and receiving his trophy (below).
The Moodie Davitt eZine | Issue 260 | 7 May 2019