In the midst of the holiday rush, chef Steve Redzikowski fired an email to his chefs de cuisine and sous chefs from Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, and Brider, announcing the second annual culinary olympics. That is a friendly but fierce competition between those who make it happen in the kitchens of the three restaurants he co-owns with beverage man Bryan Dayton. And it is one of the most successful ways that the chef found to engage and push those who work on his team.
"We do a lot of things to keep our people engaged, from farm tours at Red Wagon to lending them cookbooks and to encouraging them to go out and experience other places," Redzikowski said. "This last one isn't just a nudge. We will pay $75 toward the final bill if a cook goes out to a new place and submits a one-page summary that describes critically the food, ambiance, and beverage program," he added.
Redzikowski liked the buzz the summer version of these culinary olympics got with his culinary team so he brought it back in December. Chefs had a week to create, prepare, and be ready to present a dish that would be better that those made by their colleagues. Here's the message they received:
I'd like to announce the 2nd annual culinary olympics. This year I will split you into teams of 2 in order to create 1 dish. The dish will be grated on team work, presentation, taste and creativity. (A 4 point system)
The winning team will get a trophy to showcase in there kitchen and dinner at Matsuhisa on me. All dishes must be submitted to me by December 31st. I will discuss the dishes with my esteemed culinary board of directors and the winner will be announced January 1st.
The dish is: A terrine (want to see it as a whole and presented plated individually). It can be meat, veggy, dessert based or anything as long as it's a terrine.
There were five teams that their creations were as varied as it gets, although they all stayed savory. The winner was the terrine pictured above, a duck and pistacchio combination with pickled veggies and a duck aspic. This was the brainchild of Oak at Fourteenth's sous chefs Dan Franklin and Adam Detert. They got priceless bragging rights, an actual trophy plus a dinner at the posh Matsuhisa in Cherry Creek.
What else was entered? This colorful beet, crab meat, and cucumber terrine.
There was this unusual rotisserie chicken terrine wrapped with pasta dough.
An eye-pleasing smoked trout and scallop mousse with caviar and egg terrine.
This octopus and lobster terrine with caviar and a uni mousse on the outside.
And this Chinese pork sausage and pig ear terrine with Chinese mustard and wrapped in a scallion pancake.