The Bank Food and Drink wins People’s Choice Awards at Cast Iron Cook-off
The Bank Food and Drink, located in historic downtown Pearisburg placed in four categories, more that any other team, at the 8th Annual Cast Iron Cook-off Competition held February 2 at The Greenbrier Resort. Winning categories included The People’s Choice Award, a tie for Best Use of Cast Iron, a tie for Table Presentation, and Honorable Mention for Best use of Protein. Chef Mike stated, “The event was a great opportunity to have fun with our team, meet other area professionals, promote Appalachian cuisine and Giles County since our team was sponsored by Chris McKlarney and Giles County Tourism .”
The Cast Iron Cook-Off® celebrates many aspects of Appalachian heritage and culture. Importantly, it has demonstrated that one needs look no further than their own backyard to find tantalizing gourmet fare. The chef creates an incredible menu and recipes and, with the sous chef, provides the culinary leadership and direction for the competition. Approximately 7 other teams, each similarly composed of two professionals and seven non-culinary professionals and one high school student spend 90 minutes planning and preparing and then 75 minutes actually cooking a four-course meal for the judges. Two other special events were also featured during the day.
In addition to his Chef de Cuisine, Josh Jensen, Chef Michael Behmoiras selected fans of the restaurant that have a passion for cooking and an interest in competing. Members of the team included Jessica Behmoiras, Kitty Devereaux, Jeff Dinger, Linda Hayes, Debbie Leet, Rick Tawney, Mary Ann Walker and culinary student, Josie Tomskin.
Requirements for the menu included 4 courses with one being vegetarian and one being a dessert, all prepared using only butane burners as a cooking source. Extra points were awarded for the use of Appalachian ingredients as well as sourcing them locally wherever possible and using cast iron to prepare and serve each course.
Chef Mike’s Menu included the following:
Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad
Poached Farm Egg, Spinach, Apple Cider Reduction,
Meadow Creek Cheese, Sliced Apple
Virginia Country Ham Wrapped Rabbit Loin
with Sautéed Winter Squash, Sage Gnocchi
Pan Seared Venison Rib Chop
with Pan Roasted Root Vegetables, Morel Sauce
Deep Fried Apple Pie with Sweet Vanilla Grits,
Virginia Bourbon Sauce, Cinnamon Apple Foam
The Venison Rib Chop drew the attention of the other chefs and spectators at the event in that it was beautifully “frenched” with the meat cutaway and the end of the bone protruding and plated in cast iron. The judges said that the poached eggs on the Brussels Sprouts Salad were prepared perfectly, not an easy feat when cooking on a butane burner!
Executive Chef Michael Behmoiras attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. He has worked at Norman’s in Coral Gables, Union Square Cafe, Quality Meats and Lunetta Manhattan in New York City and most recently at Wolfgang Puck Catering at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. In March, 2012, he reopened The Bank Food and Drink in Pearisburg, Virginia as the new executive chef. His love of all things food is what drives him to constantly read books, blogs and anything else he can get his hands on to better perfect his abilities.
The Bank Food and Drink is located in downtown Pearisburg at the intersection of SR100 and Business 460. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to closing, the restaurant offers casual dining with beer, wine. and spirits, in small rooms created originally as banking offices and conference rooms. Reservations are encouraged for special events and holidays. Please call 540-921-2981 for more information or visit the website at www.thebankfoodanddrink.com.
–Submitted by Linda Hayes