The word chef, if pulled directly from a dictionary page, is defined as an individual who leads and trains a kitchen team. A coach, from that very same dictionary, leads and trains a team, often an athletic one. Garth Larcen and his Positive Vibe team brought together both types of leaders in the first annual Coach's Cook Off at Benedictine College Preparatory.
Deemed Richmond's own Kitchen Stadium meets March Madness by announcers Bob Black, assistant director of athletics at University of Richmond and Greg Burton, host of ESPN Radio 950's, "Hardly Workin'," Virginia Commonwealth University's head basketball coach, Shaka Smart, and University of Richmond's head coach, Chris Mooney, battled it out, in their team's color-tipped chef coats, no less. They had help from Lemaire's chef, Walter Bundy, and University of Richmond's chef, Glenn Pruden. Both coaches and chefs managed to look cool working in near silence and tandem under the scrutiny scads of cameras, judges, more than 150 people and an endearing request from one of their children for macaroni and cheese.
After a little more than an hour of game time complete with a halftime, the scores came in. In a narrow margin, the Mooney-Pruden team edged out the Smart-Bundy team. Mooney and Pruden won over the judges with their sautéed calamari and ramp appetizer served on an edible corn spoon and a beautifully plated duck breast over sweet potato pancake. Smart and Bundy received accolades for their basketball-shaped pimento cheese havoc appetizer and gorgeous black and blue tuna dish with lump blue crab.
In another part of town, Pasture played host to Andre Mack of the French Laundry and Per Se, a sommelier turned winemaker for sips and nips. The affable Mack, lauded in Wine Spectator, Food and Wine and elsewhere for his exceptional wine lists, is making a tour through Virginia and Washington chatting and tasting his Mouton Noir (Black Sheep in English) wines made from Oregon grapes. Check out moutonnoirwines.com or watch him on Twitter @andremack.