Sunday, October 10, 2010

SUNSET Magazine's SAVOR the Central Coast Battle by The Bay puts two of Morro Bay's Chefs in head to head competion for the first ever title of SAVOR Battle by the Bay Winner

Frankie & Lolas Front street cafe is a 35 seat bistro located right on the picturesque Morro Bay. It features a focus on local seafood and produce from the Central Coast of California. This restaurant is a life long dream of Chef Kirk Sowell and his wife Barrie.

At the helm of Windows on the Water is Chef Neil Smith.  Located on the beautiful Central Coast of California, and nestled in spectacular Morro Bay,  Windows on the Water exemplifies the finest in Modern California Cuisine.

Winner of the "New Times" readers poll for "most romantic", called the "new favorite of California" by the New York Times, and given its finest rating for delicious food, fine wine and impeccable service by the "Zagat", The restaurant

along with the highest accolades, was specifically designed to compliment the beautiful view of Morro Bay from every table. The Tuscany flair showcases the open working kitchen, extensive wine cellars, a  lounge, and breathtaking sunsets.

The  menu  changes with the seasons, benefiting from local producers for fresh fish, vegetables, fruit and herbs. The extensive wine list showcases many local wines, current California selections, as well as renowned French vintages. The full bar serves premium liquor, and maintains a vast selection of fine Scotches, Ports, Cognacs, and Tequilas.

So one may ask besides both being located in Morro Bay what do these great dining venues have in common ?   The answer is Sunset Magazine's SAVOR the Central Coast " Battle of the Bay "

SAVOR the Central Coast brought together Chefs , Winemakers , Ranchers and Farmers of  California's fertile Central Coast together for a 4 day event that was the biggest thing to hit this long overlooked area.

Editor-in-Chef Katie Tamony was on hand at the Santa Margarita Ranch to judge two of the best Chefs in  Morro Bay for the title of  the First ever  Savor Battle By the Bay Champion .  Chef Kirk Sowell of Frankie and Lola's  and Chef Neil Smith of Windows on the Water went head to head to compete for this coveted title.
Chef Neil Smith has been working in kitchens for over 20 years having started from the young age of 14 years old. He managed his first kitchen at  20 years old and enhanced his skills in upscale dining . In 2005 Neil sold half  of his catering business to become Executive Chef of Windows on the Water where he is focused on creating dishes that are local and sustainable.
Chef Kirk Sowell started cooking more than two decades ago and apprenticed under Chef Adam Pollard and went on to formalize his skills at CIA in San Francisco. He has worked at the City of Paris and became Executive Chef at the Harmony Cafe in Harmony California . Just over a year ago he and his wife Barrie realized their life long dream and opened their own restaurant , Frankie and Lolas.

We could not think of a better way to represent the Central Coast than these two Chefs from Morro bay that know how to use what bounty  they have locally from  the land and sea that is sustainable and delicious as well.

Both Chefs were given a basket of  local goods that included Black Cod , blood oranges , avocados , heirloom tomatoes , Morro Bay Oysters and of course,  Abalone .  The bell rang and their creative juices were flowing making dishes, they hoped, would impress the palate of SUNSET Magazine's Katie Tamony.

As they were working hard, they explained the importance of using fresh locally produced food.  99% of the products  these Chefs use is obtained within a 25 min drive of Morro Bay, showing how fertile this area is. The mirco climates located in the Central Coast allow fresh vegetables to be available much longer than in other areas of the state.

As aromas of fresh seafood began to fill the air, we knew their dishes were nearing completion.  They explained, for example, that often Abalone is easy to over cook.  This local fish cooks very fast one min tops and it is ready to go.  And speaking about bounty from the sea, local fishermen bring in Black Cod , Ahi Tuna , Sword Fish and Oysters on a daily basis to the docks in Morro Bay. 

The back Bay is sustainable  and is the only sustainable estuary in the US.The dishes were completed and Katie Tamony took her place between the two Chefs to sample their creations.

Bite by bite the Chefs and the audience were on the edge of their seats as Katie took her time in front of each dish.  Many times stating "  This is very difficult ! " She went down the line of dishes pausing and then picking up a  Morro Bay Oyster , turning to the audience and stating "wow ! " 
 There was a little tension in the air as she returned to a couple dishes from each Chef a second time. It was obvious that this was going to be close but there could only be one winner. 

With her decision finally made , she turned to both Chef's commended them for their great work and announced that Executive Chef Neil Smith from Windows on The Water was the winner and the first ever SAVOR the Central Coast Battle by the Bay Champion. With class , the two Chefs hugged and the event ended after some very hard work in their kitchens and the audiences appreciation for a job well done.   We congratulate Chef Neil Smith for his win and we will definitely visit both Chefs on our next visit to Morro Bay.

1 comment:

  1. It was entertaining to watch both chefs concoct these amazing creations in a very short amount of time, but I think everyone in the audience was wishing for a taste. I stopped by Frankie & Lola's for breakfast a few days later and it was delicious.