Chefs Compete with Artisanal Summer Skewer Recipes

July 20th, 2015

On Monday July 13, Meatless Monday, Natural Gourmet Institute, and Gotham Greens teamed up to present a delicious competition – the Meatless Monday Summer Skewers: Recipe Conversion Contest. The challenge? Take a traditional meaty skewer recipe, re-invent it in a meat-free way, and use a bit of fresh basil. Skewers would be judged on flavor, creativity, and presentation.

Why basil?

Where others saw a jungle of buildings, Gotham Greens saw sunny rooftops and a place to grow fresh produce in the heart of the city. Basil – they call it their “green gold” – is one of their most popular (and delicious) crops. Basil is in season now, and its bright, fresh flavor that makes it a favorite herb for inventive summer cooking.

Why skewers? 

Natural Gourmet Institute chose skewers as a meal that fit the tastes and festivities of summer. Skewers showcase the delicious produce of the season, and are an ideal meatless item for the grill at cookouts, camp outs, and barbecues. Cultures around the world are known for skewer delicacies, giving chefs a huge range of styles to choose from for their dishes.

The Dishes

The night of the competition the chefs sliced, marinated, baked, and roasted their unique recipes before the eyes of four judges and a room full of guests. The competing chefs described the flavors and textures of their recipes while they worked. Competitors surprised everyone in the audience by helping one another finish their dishes in time and improvise last minute additions.

Chef Alisa Kogan prepared a tandoori tofu and vegetable skewer drizzled in spicy mango-basil chutney, served with a cucumber carrot yogurt sauce and a salad of pickled red onion and plums. Chef Iris Fitzgerald served a skewer with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes stuffed with roasted garlic with a basil gremolata on the side. Chef Naliaka Wakhisi prepared a red lentil kofta kebab with coconut quinoa and a basil tahini sauce, served with an improvised fresh herb salad.

The Judges

Judges included Beth Lipton, Food Director of Health Magazine, Tim Ferrell, Chef du Cuisine at Pickle Shack in Brooklyn, Arielle Haspel of Be Well with Arielle, and our very own Peggy Neu, President of Meatless Monday. Each brought their knowledge of food, health, and flavor to the table as they evaluated each dish.

And the Winner is…

Choosing a winner was a difficult task; the flavor combinations, presentation, and creativity of each entry deeply impressed the judges. In the end, Chef Alisa Kogan’s tandoori skewers won her the grand prize: a tour of Gotham Greens’ rooftop greenhouse and a gift certificate for The Pickle Shack.

Check out the winning recipe here on NGI’s site to recreate designer skewers yourself for Meatless Monday!