Craft beer is more popular than ever, which means that chefs have been as interested in creating dishes that pair beautifully with an IPA or witbier as they were previously in cooking to suit fine wines. Local gastropubs and fine-dining restaurants alike are bulking up their beer selections, and the industry's taking notice. Dallas-brewed beers made a strong showing at the Great American Beer Festival this year, and a highly-respected national brewery has also started to take notice of what chefs are doing in Dallas.
New York-based Brewery Ommegang is known for its solid lineup of traditional Belgian-style beers, and it's challenged chefs across the country to cook dishes that complement the flavors of these brews. Previous stops of the HopChef competition have been in Philadelphia, Miami, and Boston, and the brewery is bringing its challenge to five of Dallas' brightest chefs on November 3rd at 3015 Trinity Groves.
This year's competition will feature Chef Oliver Sitrin from Blind Butcher, Rodman Shields from The Common Table, Ashley Yancey from The Libertine, David McMillan from Meddlesome Moth, and Rick Stewart from Irving's FM Smokehouse. Each of these restaurants has its own impressive lineup of beers from across the world in bottles and on draught, but they'll have to find a combination of flavors that specifically complements the notes of Ommegang's Hennepin or Abbey Ale in order to emerge victorious.
For the competing chefs, there's a lot at stake. The 2014 HopChef Champion will win a feature spread in Saveur Magazine, a prize pack full of kitchen swag, and a big-ass three liter trophy. Best of all, they'll win a trip to the brewery in Cooperstown, New York during the annual Belgium Comes To Cooperstown festival, which sounds like a big party with a bunch of beer and chocolate.
Attendees will be plied with samples of the chefs' delicious entries, along with the Ommegang beers they're paired with and the glass they're served in. The chefs will be cooking in full view of the audience, so maybe you'll be able to figure out what Oliver Sitrin puts in his ridiculously good butcher's mustard or what exactly goes into one of those random sausages on the menu.
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At $60, tickets are a lot more reasonably priced than eating and drinking at all five of these fine establishments, and you'll be able to support the important message that "fine beer deserves its place at the table alongside fine foods." Or at least consume a lot of both before incoherently pontificating about your love for Belgian brew.