Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sausage Grill Fest at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

On Saturday I spent the day at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, and the nonprofit CUESA had a special event going on. It was the second year of its Grill Fest, which works like an Iron Chef competition featuring some of the city's best chefs.

Last year the featured ingredient was hamburger, and it was a burger cook off with Chef Mark Sullivan of the restaurant Spruce taking the honors of best burger. This year the featured ingredient was sausage. All the participating chefs had to make their own sausages, which they made prior to the event. And on Saturday they grilled their sausages and served them to the judges with specially made side dishes.

The chefs participating in the Grill Fest this year were Chef Sullivan, coming back to defend his title; Thomas Odermatt (top right), chef of the street cart Roli Roti that has a permanent spot at the Saturday market; David Bazirgan (bottom left), chef of the swank Chez Papa Resto in Mint Plaza; and Peter McNee (bottom right), chef of Poggio restaurant.

Here's Chef Odermatt with his sous chef, who's busy grilling some corn that will later go into a corn salad served with his sausages. I thought it was funny how Chef Odermatt is going over his list of things to do. Or maybe he was just reviewing the day's count of people standing in line for his porchetta sandwiches.

The chefs brought a few of their own ingredients for the challenge, but CUESA also supplied a lot of colorful ingredients from the farmers market. My mouth was watering as I saw Sullivan's sous chef cooking up some padron peppers, and then he later worked on a flat bread.

I wasn't the only one who thought the grilled lemons at Chef McNee's counter looked beautiful.

Some sausages on the grill. All the chefs made sausages called "merquez," which is supposedly a spicy sausage. The only guy who didn't make a merquez sausage was Chef Odermatt, who made a rabbit sausage.

Here's Sullivan plating up his sausage dish, which had a real Mediterranean feel with his couscous salad and yogurt and cheese base.

Chef Sullivan's plated dish is ready for the judges.

Sullivan was going all out and even brought his bartender from the restaurant to make a special muddled berry drink for the judges that looked really refreshing.

Here's Chef McNee's finished sausage dish that was served with a cucumber-arugula salad and grilled lemon and the sausage on a bun topped off with some grilled vegetables.

The winner of this year's Grill Fest: Sausage turned out to be Chef Sullivan, a repeat. That's actually an amazing feat considering the competition from what I could see the other chefs plating up. All the food looked amazing. Afterward, CUESA was selling smaller portions of the chefs' sausage dish for $2 each. I decided to just try Chef Sullivan's winning dish, and I thought the sausage was great.

I would have tried the other three chefs' dishes but the competition was almost two hours so I actually ran over during the cooking to Il Cane Rosso for its milk-raised pork sandwich, so there was only so much meat I could eat this day. Next year I'll make sure to eat lighter so I can taste all the chefs' creations. Can't wait to see what the featured ingredient will be in 2011.


Nate @ House of Annie said...

Oh man I would have given anything to be at that event! Thanks (or no thanks ;-) ) for taking us there.

Cookie said...

How fun!

Carolyn Jung said...

What a fun time! And congrats to Chef Mark for extending his winning streak with another win.