Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, and enjoy a good meal. If you happen to be celebrating the holiday at the Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
in Greensboro, Ga., that meal comes with a little extra: a friendly chef competition
About four years ago, Scott Gambone, director of food and beverage (and former executive chef), wanted to break away from the typical style Thanksgiving Day brunch to offer his guests something unique and out-of-the-box. Knowing that the holiday is a time for families, it’s also a time many partake in watching a football game or two. Inspired by the thought of competition, he wanted to incorporate some type of dining theatre into the brunch. Thus the chefs competition was created.
Similar to Food Network’s series “Iron Chef,” two selected chefs at the property compete against each other as they create dishes using a holiday mystery ingredient, which in the past has been anything from apples to pre-made Thanksgiving leftovers.
Once introductions are made, rules are given, and the mystery ingredient is unveiled, the chefs have 45 minutes to prepare something tasty. They slice, dice, chop and mix in an open-kitchen type concept with the buffet on both sides that allows guests to interact them as they go through the line.
Audiovisuals are set up throughout the Grand Ballroom so that no one misses a moment.
Now while this is going on, the pastry chef, in the foyer of the ballroom, is creating a chocolate showpiece that will be presented to the winning chef.
Now back to the ballroom, where the action is happening. Don’t get the wrong idea and think this is easy for them. Gambone likes to keep the chefs on their toes.
“If I think they’re getting too comfortable and the audience agrees, I’ll tell them that they have to make a third dish.”
Once the time is up, the chefs (and their creations) have to face the judges. Selected from the audience, the three judges have to sample the food and rate it on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).
“The competition is a lot of fun and exciting,” he says. “The guests are totally engaged throughout it.”
“It has become a great tradition, and the show is definitely impressive.”
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge’s Thanksgiving Day Brunch is served 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 25. There’s two seatings for the chef competition: 11:30 – 12:15 and 2:30 – 3:15. Gambone says even though it’s a busy day, they haven’t lost sight of the required Thanksgiving meal. On the buffet, guests will find turkey, dressing, ham and more. Reservations are recommended, and can be made either online or by calling 706-467-0600.
photo: courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation