Last week's Taste of Piazza was a huge success! This was Piazza's fifth show in ten years. Every other year, Piazza invites their customers to come try food and new products from over 100 of their vendors lining the hallways of the Main Concourse at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The day started out with a cooking competition. The grand prize was a Red Gold-sponsored Golden Ticket to compete at the 2019 World Food Championships in Austin, Texas taking place October 16-20. These four cheftestants, from around Indiana, came out to compete:
Each chef was able to bring a sous chef to assist in the creation of their dish. Piazza provided the food for the competition. Each team was given a mystery box comprised of the same protein options and access to a shared pantry. They were also alotted time to shop the floor and Piazza display to get specialty items from exhibiting vendors.
C&T Design was responsible for constructing the kitchen space for the competition. With no electricity or plumbing in the competition space, building the kitchen was a challenging task. The amazing Bankers Life staff brought us both power and water. Each competitor's station consisted of an Advance Tabco mirrored prep table, Vollrath induction burners, Vollrath pots and pans, and Ivy Tech-provided utensils. Other equipment brought in for the chefs to use communally were Hamilton Beach countertop and immersion blenders, a TurboChef SOTA high speed oven, shelving, refrigeration and a 3-compartment sink to keep things clean during the competition.
With 50 minutes on the clock, the chefs got to work. Healther Tallman of Indiana Grown (Indiana State Department of Agriculture) and Sean Copeland who hosts a morning show on B105.7 as well as Majic 95.1, our terrific emcees, entertained the audience with questions to the chefs about their experience and the dishes they were preparing while providing hilarious banter.
During the cooking portion of the competition, one of the four judges, the floor judge, walked around the "kitchen" to each station and took notes on technique, sanitation, and safety. He scored each chef only on these criteria.
The other three judges were not present during the prep or cooking of the dishes to remain impartial. These judges were unaware of who cooked what dish until after they tasted and scored each dish. These judges were responsible for taking notes on taste and presentation.
The judges were (pictured below from left to right):
As the scores were tallied, each chef had the opportunity to talk about their dish to the crowd and judges about why they chose the protein they did and explain each decision they made throughout the competition.
And the winner is.. with a turkey dish.. Chef Justin Miller! He is heading to Austin, Texas in October to compete at the World Food Championships. Best of luck, Justin!
A very special thank you to the manufacturers that partnered with us in the creation of this kitchen to make sure the competition went as smoothly as possible: