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Daley Plaza Cookoff Features Local Chefs Using Local Ingredients

By Juan Thompson | August 2, 2013 6:30am
 Chicago Farmers Markets held its seventh annual "Master of the Market" competition in Daley Plaza Thursday.
Master of the Market
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THE LOOP — Local chefs Beverly Kim-Clark, Thai Dang and Jared Van Camp brought their cooking skills to a crowded Daley Plaza Thursday afternoon during the seventh annual "Master of the Market" country cook-off.

The competing chefs were given 20 minutes and $50 to shop for food in the Daley Plaza Farmers Market, which is held from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 24.

After frantically scooping up their ingredients, the chefs had 30 minutes to prepare their dishes.

The final plates were then judged by Catherine De Orio, new host of WTTW's "Check, Please!," restaurateur Billy Dec, Eater Chicago editor Daniel Gerzina and Le Cordon Bleu culinary student Jeffery Brigham.

The judges used five criteria to determine the winner: presentation, taste, creativity, adaptability for the audience and how well the dish's components corresponded with the fresh fruits and vegetables theme of Chicago Farmers Markets.

Van Camp, the executive chef and owner of Nellcote, prepared a fresh summer salad.

"I eat light and fresh in the summer and want to eat something that doesn't weigh me down," said Van Camp.

Thai Dang, who leads the kitchen at Embeya, whipped up a summer vegetable plate with charred zucchini, squash and jalapeno peppers.

"Different products have different ways for handling things," Dang responded when asked why he chose to char the vegetables.

Beverly Kim-Clark teaches at Kendall College in River West, though she first shot to culinary fame as a bullied but pugnacious underdog on Bravo's "Top Chef."

Kim-Clark made udon noodles from scratch, stir fried them and then tossed in some sweet corn, summer kale and pickled mushroom juice. 

"We were going to cook dumplings," she said, as her husband and sous-chef stood behind her, "but we decided instead to the let vegetables speak for themselves."

Apparently Kim-Clark's dish spoke very well because the judges declared her "Master of the Market."

"It's great to showcase the vegetables and the farmers and to celebrate Chicago's farmers' markets," the winner told the crowd of 50 spectators.

"I love the farmers market and fresh food. Everyone who is able should be eating these foods," said observer Kate Jones, 57, of Lincoln Park.