Citywide 86'd Finale

Live American Culinary Show for a French Intern

On Monday, the 15th of June, I attended my first live cooking competition, the finale of Citywide 86'd in Austin, Texas. The event took place at The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. When I am in France, I love to watch cooking shows on TV like Top Chef and Masterchef. So, I was very excited to be able to attend Citywide 86'd to see what goes on behind the scenes. With my camera in hand, I was able to get up close and see what is filmed for TV.

Citywide 86'd Competition Kitchen

It was very impressive to see how quickly the Chef contestants create a recipe and make the ingredients into a beautiful, creative dish. To get their ingredients and equipment, the contestants had to run around the kitchen, which was very stressful and made them all sweat. Each round was very short (Appetizer Round was 25 minutes, Entrée Round was 30 minutes, and Dessert Round was 25 minutes.). Thus, the Contestants were under a lot of pressure to finish their dish on time. Once the round was over, each Chef presented his/her dish to the panel of 4 Celebrity Chef Judges.

Chefs Contestants for the Finale of Citywide 86d

The Citywide 86’d Final Competition is a battle of four Chefs from Austin, Texas , each who won a Preliminary Round to get to the Finals.

This year, the finalists were (left to right in the picture above):

- Kevin Cannon from Barley Swine

- Joel Garza from St. Philip's

- Claire Helbig from Eden East

- Oscar Yip from Olive and June

Chef Claire Helbig, Eden East Restaurant

For each of the three rounds, which were Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert, Contestants were given a bag with four mystery ingredients, which are unfamiliar and difficult to cook together.

Mystery Ingredients for Appetizer

The mystery ingredients were:

Appetizer Secret Ingredients: Squab (a “difficult game bird,” explained Emcee Zach Knight), Orange Chile de Arbol Marmalade, Green Plums, and Micro Shiso.

First Round Appetizer

Picture above shows First Round Appetizer Dish prepared by Oscar Yip, Olive and June

Entree Round Secret Ingredients - Citywide 86'd

Entrée Secret Ingredients: Papalo, Pineapple Syrup, Geoduck (pronounced as gooey-duck), and Purple & Green Beans.

Second Round Entree

Picture above shows Second Round Entree with Geoduck made by Kevin Cannon, Barley Swine

Mystery Ingredients for the Last Round

Dessert Secret Ingredients: Uni, Black Jacque Madeira (sealed with wax, which had the final two chefs fumbling for a good minute to get it open), Black Garlic, and Prickly Pears.

Last Round, Desserts

Dessert Round Dish prepared by Kevin Cannon, Barley Swine

Chef Kevin Cannon from Barley Swine

These chefs used their skills and unrivalled creativity to create a dish that will impress the judges. They are judged based on the components of presentation, taste, level of difficulty and the use of all ingredients. After each round, one contestant was eliminated or “86’d”.

The Celebrity Chef Judges were:

- Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin

- Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants in San Antonio

- John Tesar of Knife and Oak Restaurant in Dallas

- Andrew Wiseheart of Gardner and Contigo in Austin


During the competition, there were also restaurants tables for the Attendees to taste small appetizers which were very good. There were also some drinks (wines from all around the world – beers – cider – gin…..). Some of the restaurants were Uchi, Café Josie , Swift’s Attic, Trace , Uchiko, Olive and June, and Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

Appetizer From Olive and June

Picture above is Appetizer From Olive and June Restaurant

L'Oliveto, California Wine

Attendees tasted the Pinot Noir Wine from L'Oliveto Winery

The Winner of Citywide 86d Final : Joel Garza

Joel Garza from St. Philip’s prevailed as the winner of 2015 Citywide 86’d Competition. He won the opportunity to do a one-week stage in San Francisco at AsterSF Restaurant under the guidance of Executive Chef Brett Cooper, along with a $2250 educational travel grant from the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

It was a very nice culinary show. Very spectacular and intense !!! I loved it.

Big thanks to the organizers KeeperCollection, Uchi /Uchiko and Wine & Food Foundation of Texas for this great culinary event.