A Heated Competition at Chefs Under Fire

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Chef David Grossman judges one of the competitor's dishes.
Last night's Chefs Under Fire event proved that some of the city's most talented chefs aren't cooking in the hottest restaurants in town...or even in a restaurant at all.

Five area chefs competed in the Houston regionals of the annual Chefs Under Fire event to determine who would represent the Bayou City at the state finals: Chef Emmanuel Chavez of San Jacinto College, Chef Chuck Harris of the newly reopened Spindletop Steakhouse, Chef Christina Lee of the Central Market Cooking School, Chef Michael Pellegrino of MAX's Wine Dive Houston or Chef Harold Wong of Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar.

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Winning chef Christina Lee.
Ingredients for the dishes were mandated by the competition -- the main component had to be frog legs, along with local produce like fresh creamer peas -- and all of the chefs' cooking was done under strict supervision at Sysco's massive and modern test kitchens at the food company's Greenspoint campus. The panel of judges was comprised of folks who know their food and frog's legs: Chefs Monica Pope, David Grossman and Jonathan Jones.

In the end, it was the frog's leg lollipops from the lone female chef, Christina Lee of Central Market, that won the judges' approval. Lee will defend her regional title against chefs from Dallas and San Antonio at the Austin finals on October 25, where she'll have an even tougher crowd to please: Chefs David Bull, Tyson Cole and Kent Rathbun.

Check out our slideshow from the evening for more photos.

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