Saffron's Sameh Wadi wins Country Chef Challenge

Categories: Events, Food, News

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The title of Master of the Market goes to chef Wadi
This weekend, the Minneapolis Farmers Market hosted the Country Chef Challenge, which featured two local chefs going head to head in a market cook-off. Jack Riebel from Minneapolis's Butcher & the Boar faced off against Saffron's master of Middle Eastern cuisine Sameh Wadi. The two chefs put out stunning dishes, but in the end it was Wadi who took home the title of Master of the Market.

The contest was held on Saturday at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and was judged by a panel of local celebrities, including WCCO-TV weekend anchors Jamie Yucca and Matt Brickman, Star Tribune Taste editor Lee Dean, and Minneapolis food blogger and Fortify Food founder Stephanie Meyer. 

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Wadi's first course: tomato salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette
The chefs were given 20 minutes to shop the market, a $50 budget, and 30 minutes to prep and cook the dishes. As the clock started, each chef raced through the market looking for the best of the best. Some of the ingredients that made the plates: tomatoes, sweet corn, melons, bacon, and trout.

Each chef took a different approach to the cooking portion of the competition. Chef Riebel spent his time putting together a stunning "deconstructed" BLT. He used bacon, fresh heirloom tomatoes, toasted croutons, and fresh basil as his foundation and, upon serving to the judges, a cheese soup was gently poured around the center salad.

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Action Jack Riebel throwing down
Chef Wadi prepared a full three-course tasting menu for the judges. Course one consisted of an heirloom tomato salad dressed with a roasted tomato vinaigrette. For course two, Wadi used some fresh trout, which at the last minute he dropped into a sweet corn broth with market squash and zucchini in his tagine. The result was a market-fresh dish draped in north African flavors. For dessert he served a chilled melon soup with berries and cracked black pepper.

When we asked Wadi about his game plan, he told us that, "When we walked in, honestly, we just strolled through and we saw what was available. We saw all the beautiful produce that we wanted to use. Protein was the big question, but we saw some awesome trout, so we decided to make our entree out of that."

The winner of the competition won a donation made in their name to Youth Link Homeless Services in the amount of $500.

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Trout tagine anyone?
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Chilled melon soup with berries and cracked pepper
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Riebel's deconstructed BLT
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The judges and chefs

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