As a grand finale to the Blue Zone Project’s Mayor’s Challenge, the mayors of Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach teamed up with a chef from their city to compete in the Mayor’s Cook-Off at Abigaile Restaurant Jan. 9. Modeled after Iron Chef, the competition required each mayor/chef duo to create a healthy, vegetarian dish in 30 minutes or less highlighting a secret ingredient that was revealed right before the clock started.
The hosts unveiled the ingredient – green lentils – and the pairs set to work, grabbing fresh ingredients from a bounty of produce and grains at their disposal and cooking on table-top stoves in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of about 200 local foodies.
When time ran out, the hosts yelled, “Hands up! Utensils down!,” the catch phrase from another cooking show, Top Chef, and each mayor was asked to present and explain their dish to the judges, who graded the teams based on presentation, taste, and teamwork.
Manhattan Beach Mayor Wayne Powell and Chef Chris Garasic (Zinc @ Shade Hotel) came out on top, winning both the teamwork award and the prize for best dish. The winning dish was jicama enchiladas stuffed with coconut and raw almond cheese over a lentil purée with cilantro pesto and tropical slaw.
Hermosa Mayor Jeff Duclos and Chef Tin Vuong (Abigaile) also went for the jicama: the duo used the root vegetable to make a pasta-like shell and made “ravioli” filled with a Mediterranean blend of lentils, feta, olives, and raisins.
Redondo Mayor Mike Gin and Chef Bert Agor (Kincaid’s) got creative with king oyster mushrooms, cutting the stems to resemble scallops. The pair presented the dish as sautéed “forest scallops” with lentil tabouli and avocado/chocolate mousse.
The Blue Zone Project’s Mayor’s Challenge began in September. Its winner will be the first of the Beach Bities to get twenty percent of its citizens to sign the Blue Zones Personal Pledge and complete one of the action steps. The Blue Zones Project encourages health, wellbeing, and environmental improvement in communities by emphasizing its members’ eating and exercise habits, personal purpose and human connections.