My intention was to have a few days in Asheville to support Charleston’s Bloom Supperclub, in town competing at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival…BATTLE OF THE BLUEBERRY!!!  This became an   unexpected opportunity to start The Diva is a Chef blog.


        The chefs for the battle were Chef Ulfet Ozyabasligil Ralph of the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan,  Ohio   representing Bloom Supperclub in  Charleston, SC  and Chef Daniel Kaufmann formerly of Magnolia Ray in Asheville, NC.  Watching over them was chef referee Chef Daniel Wright


The secret ingredient was blueberry.  Blueberries are incredibly versatile. You can put a blueberry anywhere.

I have to applaud these two teams, six chefs total, for being able to work in harmony in one of the smallest kitchens I’ve ever come across . I’m still in disbelief that six solid dishes came out of that. 


Course 1: Romanesco garden with blueberry gastrique with Romanesco, English cucumber, spinach, bacon, cured egg yolk, shaved bread, beets, and Brussel sprouts.

Course 2: Veal short rib debris , spiced blueberry seared tuna, roasted tomato coulis  and charred cherry tomato

Course 3: Rack of lamb, caramelized leeks, polenta, a trio of pureed spinach, bacon  & corn, and   blueberry

Course 4: Smoked lamb over a spinach risotto with a cheese crust, blueberry barbeque sauce and sweet potato puree.

Course 5: Blueberry buttermilk cake, goat cheese frosting, lemon-thyme curd with blueberry elderflower sauce.

Course 6: Chocolate pain perdue , truffle blueberry goat cheese with blueberry jam.


Notable dishes

Course 2- Chef Daniel Kaufmann

The flavor of the spiced blueberry seared tuna knocked me out…I wasn’t expecting it. The short rib debris was everything to me more than pleasant to my palate. I could eat it in a bowl with a buttermilk biscuit, life would be good.-“Easy “Lionel Richie

Course 4- Chef Ulfet Ralph


I’m not too fond of spicy…and this dish had heat.  However, the barbeque sauce made the dish and made up for the fact that the lamb was slightly overcooked.  Although it was hot, it was just enough heat…definitely a yin and yang.   The smokiness of the lamb took me back to culinary school, learning to use a smoker for the first time.


Course 5-Chef Ulfet Ralph

You know the smile that’s on the late Ray Charles’s face when he’s performing?  That’s what this cake did to me.  The cake was so moist.  The goat cheese frosting was so light, it complemented the gentle cake with the perfect amount of blueberry.  My only complaint…the slice was too small.

++ In my opinion course number one was a visually stunning dish. The lamb for the third course was cooked perfectly.

++For a bit of history, Course number 6 was Pain Perdue which means” lost bread” in French. In American we call it French toast  and most often serve it with syrup during breakfast. The French serve it as dessert.


I want to applaud the chefs for coming in and rising to the blueberry challenge.  I hope to see both of these chefs at the finale next month.

These battles will go on until the August 12  where the top four scoring chefs will compete “ Iron Chef” style on Saturday, August 23, 2014. You can find out more information at the website


Ashlee Washington
Blog: The diva is a Chef
Instagram: diva.chef

Blog Photos by Marie Rodriguez -

Additional Photos may be seen at:  Julie McMillan of Silver Birch Studio Photography  and Photos from Asheville Scene Chefs Challenge #2 by Susi Gott Séguret