About 250 people joined Dallas McGarity (Chef and Owner at Portage House, The Fat Lamb) at Mile Wide Beer Co last night to enjoy appetizers and watch the Chopped episode where he and Peng Looi (Chef/Owner at August Moon) competed in a chicken based challenge. It was the first time two chefs from Louisville have competed on the same episode. While Looi was chopped after the entree round, McGarity went on to grab the second Louisville win so far this year. (Volare’s Josh Moore won a seafood challenge in January.)

“It was really neat to be with someone you know to experience that together,” said McGarity about competing with another Louisville chef. “I told him in the beginning, we had a 50/50 chance of bringing the win home to Louisville.”

Looi said that the Chopped experience was very gratifying even though he didn’t win.

“I’m happy that I lost to a great chef,” he said, admitting that he struggled most with getting things ready and plated in the short amount of time available while dodging the camera crew. ”It’s very stressful. That’s one thing I’m not used to – cameras above you, to the left of you, the right of you, and under you. It’s a different ballgame.”

McGarity said he was worried during the first round when he made an Italian wedding soup, because his dumplings were too big and turned out to be a bit gooey. However, he made it through to the next round to make ricotta gnocchi with shakshuka and poussin ragu and a fried poussin drumstick with a little grated parmesan on top. Then, he made a strange sounding dish in the third round that the judges were surprised they enjoyed:  a chicken fried rice mousse, which was chicken fried rice stirred into a mousse made from a creme filled chocolate egg, mascarpone cheese, and some fruit soaked in bourbon for an old fashioned effect.

It was so cool,” he said about winning. “I’m very excited. It was a great thing to do, and I would absolutely compete again. It’s surreal, one of those things where you don’t think you’ll ever be on a show like that doing something that crazy, but in the end it was very fun.”

In addition to visiting his two restaurants, fans will have a special opportunity to enjoy an intimate dinner with McGarity at MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen, on March 6. The monies raised will be going to host a lunch for the chemo patients at Norton’s Children’s Hospital downtown along with the staff that takes care of them. Kids from MESA’s Cooking School will be sous Chefs for Chef Dallas during the event and also will be making cupcakes for dessert for the children with cancer. 

Photograph of Dallas McGarity preparing his meal for round two, courtesy of Food Network.