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Who’s the Man Chef Challenge: Petersen vs. Watkins

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Three courses, six dishes, two chefs and endless amounts of beef tenderloin cooked during a three-hour period to decide who is the man.

Story By: Leigh Anne Winger

On Sept. 15, Chef Josh Watkins and Chef Paul Petersen threw down in an ultimate cooking challenge at the North Lamar location of Central Market. The three-course meal cooked by each chef consisted of a variety of dishes focused on the use of beef tenderloin. It was like watching an episode of Iron Chef live as Chef Watkins and Chef Petersen used their creative talents to cook beef tenderloin in ways that most would consider unconventional. (I mean, who would have thought to put beef tenderloin in ice cream?) There was neither a set menu, nor recipes for the night because each chef spontaneously created their dishes shortly before the cook-off. The six dishes were paired with different Alaskan Brewing Co. ales: Alaskan White, Alaskan Amber and Alaskan IPA.

The decision as to which chef would present first on the appetizer course was decided by a coin flip—Petersen was up to the grill. His first dish was beef Carpaccio with marinated mushrooms. To follow, Chef Watkins cooked up tenderloin with hollandaise sauce alongside beef tartar. The appetizers were served with the Alaskan White, which was very smooth and could accompany almost any food.

Petersen cooked chimichurri grilled tenderloin served over polenta filled with lobster and green onion for his entree. He showed off his grilling expertise by grilling the tenderloin with star grill lines. At this point, the competition was getting heavy and each chef was doing everything he could to win the crowd. Watkins was not intimidated by grill master Petersen, as Watkins followed with delicious olive oil-poached tenderloin on a potato puree with a side of fried Brussels sprouts. Who knew Brussels sprouts could taste so good? The entrées were paired with an Alaskan Amber.

As the meal came to dessert, the entire crowd anxiously awaited to see how each chef would use beef tenderloin to create something sweet. Neither chef left us disappointed, as Petersen whipped up a briscola pistachio brittle with pink peppercorn ice cream while Watkins challenged with grilled beef tenderloin ice cream topped with peanut crumble. The desserts were paired with the hoppy brew, the Alaskan IPA.

Both chefs created a wonderful meal and a roomful of excitement as it came down to the final decision. Who’s the man? This is not the chefs’ fist challenge together and after the vote was counted, it was revealed that Grill Master Chef Paul Petersen won the popular vote by a two-thirds margin. Chef Petersen may have walked away from the tenderloin challenge as the man, but what we here at Austin Woman want to know is: Chef Watkins, when is the rematch?

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