Duelling Chefs 2011 Part 2 – Petit Bill’s Bistro

Norm Aitken, Peter Robblee & Sandro Pangilinan shucking oysters at Duelling Chefs 2011

Juniper's team: Norm Aitken, Peter Robblee & Sandro Pangilinan shucking oysters

After almost a year since the 2010 events wrapped-up, and having missed the first event of 2011 while on vacation, it was great to get back in the kitchen to shoot this amazing series of charity events.  Last year the event raised over $30,000 for local charities, and they’re aiming for over $40,000 this year.  Many of last year’s sponsors are back for a 2nd year, which says a lot about the event’s coordination and value to the community.

These events are a lot of fun for me, and are also a great warm-up for my upcoming wedding photography season.  Aside from the “static” food photography, I’m also right in the middle of the very dynamic action in the kitchen, and capturing the action requires me to have a sharp eye, move really quickly, and anticipate every move the chefs make…while not being burned or getting in the way.  These guys really boogie…especially when the clock is ticking during service – where they have to expedite 70+ plates in a matter of minutes.  I literally have fractions of a second to compose and capture the action.  It’s a rush.

Pete Robblee focused on his meticulous plating

Petit Bill's Glen Sansome putting finishing touches on their fish (Pickerel with arugula salad and tomato essence dressing)

I’m not going to write a lengthy blog post about each event this year, but instead leave it to the pros and share highlights through photos.   I’ll share that Juniper was the winner, giving them a 2-0 start to the season.  Petit Bill’s won the popular vote, but Juniper won the judge’s vote with a convincing 3-0 score.  The secret ingredient for this dual was sweet soy sauce, and I think both kitchens did an outstanding job.

If you’re interested in the details, here is a link to Ron Eade’s post on the event.  He’s the food editor for the Ottawa Citizen, a mega foodie, technical chairman of the event (selecting the secret ingredient), and a fantastic writer.  Of course, the official 2011 Duelling Chefs website also has regular write-ups  and featured photos at www.duellingchefs.com.

Here are some of my favorites from the night:

Juniper's sweet soy ginger steamed oyster with soy pearls and lime ginger granite. The gorgeous orange stuff is coarse salt.

Petit Bill's Elk tartare with sweet soy celeriac dijonaise on crustini.

Juniper's main: Orange cured duck breast, soy wontons and tamari beurre blanc with pea shoot shiitake salad. Wow. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to shoot this dish where both the duck and wontons were highlighted with the short window I have before the dish started to show it's age.

Juniper's dessert: This one was too pretty to not share. Homemade caramel ice cream, soy drizzle with candied Asian pear and soy peanut caramel corn.

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