ASHEVILLE- A well executed dish is just as much presentation as it is flavor.
So when Chef Daniel Wright of Tomato Jam Café served his opponent’s, Chef Anthony Cerrato of Strada Italino, severed head on a platter to the judges in front of a thousand screaming fans at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival Saturday, it was clear Wright was the undisputed WNC Chef’s Mortal Kombat Challenge champion.
“In all my years of being around food, I have never seen a dish executed quite like that,” said Joe Scully of Chesnut, one of the judges.
“Daniel just yelled really loudly ‘Get over here’ and the next thing I know a meat clever is spinning through the air and strikes Anthony right in the forehead. I must say I’m going to miss Anthony greatly, but Daniel’s knife skills are quite impressive.”
The WNC Chef’s Mortal Kombat Challenge is a tournament culminating at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival starring chefs from all over Western North Carolina region that each round cook to the death until there is one chef left standing.
“In the kitchen it’s all about trusting what you already know,” said Wright.
“So when I saw the cleaver, I just went with my instinct and executed the dish the best I knew how. You win some and you lose some and today I was fortunate enough to execute a dish that worked.”
Moments before his demise Cerrato was wielding some cannoli nunchucks of death filled with cream, but Wright struck Cerrato with the cleaver before Cerrato even had a chance to strike Wright.
“These cooking competitions are rarely about who is the better chef,” said Scully.
“Because of time constraints, usually the chef who thinks better on his feet wins. Is a meat cleaver the most creative way to end your opponent? Probably not, but Wright is still standing and I can’t say I’ve seen a fountain of blood rise from a human’s head like that before. It was so beautiful I almost felt compelled to dip strawberries in it.”
As winner of the WNC Chef’s Mortal Kombat Challenge Wright was awarded $5,000 cash to a charity of his choice. Wright has decided to donate the sum to the Anothy Cerrato Memorial fund.
“Well it was the least I can do, you know after taking the guy’s life,” said Wright.
“I’ve had some tough days in the kitchen, but I always seem to walk away from it a better chef. Anthony today doesn’t get that chance.”