Bellazzi Takes Title From Smith-Rosales Via Split-Decision

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One of the closer Sunday Night Chef Fights in recent history ended with a brand-new champion being crowned, as Challenger Chef Nicola (Nick) Bellazzi, chef owner of Enne Cucina Italiana in San Clemente, defeated Defending Champion Chef of Orange County Lindsay Smith-Rosales, chef/owner of Nirvana Grille in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo, in the latest Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight last night at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 65 hungry foodies and food lovers, both chefs presented an array of dishes that utilized the three base ingredients of ham, cauliflower, and sweet potato, as well as the mystery ingredient of coconut, which was revealed to the chefs only 48 hours before the Chef Fight.

As Defending Champion, Chef Lindsay elected to cook second, ceding the kitchen to her challenger to commence the proceedings. Chef Nick used his full 30 minutes of cooking time and most of the 10 additional minutes for plating to finish and present his four dishes, which exemplified his pan-Italian cooking and which utilized all four base ingredients in three of the four dishes.

He began with a cauliflower and sweet potato soup with prosciutto bits and shaved coconut, then offered a Primi pasta dish of Penne pasta with prosciutto, arugula, coconut cream, and truffle oil. Next came his Secondi, a chicken tender wrapped in prosciutto, cooked in coconut milk and topped with cauliflower, then served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes with Gorgonzola and shaved coconut. Finally for dessert, Chef Nick prepared a sweet potato and coconut creme brulee.

After the audience had tasted and judged Chef Nick’s creations, Chef Lindsay stepped into the kitchen and presented three dishes of her own. Finishing just into the extra time, her dishes highlighed her love of organic and seasonal foods, and the flavors of a recent trip to Bali.

She began with a cauliflower soup of her own, which she garnished with a crispy pancetta chip, then served her main entree, a braised and spiced chicken thigh served atop coconut and cilantro rice and topped with a coconut, curry, and cilantro beurre blanc sauce. Finally, for her dessert, she served up a sweet potato custard with caramel and shaved coconut.

After the audience had the opportunity to taste and score Chef Lindsay’s dishes, it was time to reveal the results. Chef Nick took the Creativity category 284 to 258, while Chef Lindsay won the Appearance category 279 to 263. It all came down to Taste, where Chef Nick emerged victorious by a score of 285 to 255, taking home the Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight trophy and the title of Defending Champion Chef of Orange County.

As Defending Champion, Chef Nick will return to defend his title at the next Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight on Sunday, August 21st at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach, facing off against Challenger Chef James Harris, Executive Chef of the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach.

Posted by Lauren 05/21/11