Chefs Challenge Quarterfinals: Zambra Advances

April 23, 2013 WNC Chefs Challenge Quarterfinal

Chef Mike Fisera – Lexington Avenue Brewery

Chef Steven Goff – Zambra


By Ingrid


Locally produced Troy & Sons moonshine and whiskey flavored the dishes (and cocktails) at the quarterfinal round of the WNC Chefs Challenge between chefs Steven Goff of Zambra and Mike Fisera of Lexington Avenue Brewing. But the secret ingredient behind the spirits is “super corn.”


The Crooked Creek white corn used to make the mash for the signature liquors is of superior quality to yellow, neutral-grain corn, according to Mary Rich Hill of Asheville Distilling Co., which produces T&S Platinum, Oak Reserve, and Blonde Whiskey. Peaceful Valley Farm in Old Fort is believed to be the only place where this heirloom corn still grows. Sixth-generation grower John Mcentire introduced Troy Ball to the corn and it now serves as the base for all her creations.


The quality of Troy & Sons products was apparent in the cocktails, as well as in each dish that Goff and Mike Fisera’s teams created. From the richly mellow exotic flavors of LAB’s Blonde Whiskey-cured salmon atop Platinum Whiskey sticky rice to Zambra’s stellar Blonde Whiskey-tinted apple cobbler with berries and whiskey crème anglaise, the liquors added something special. The Blonde Whiskey was particularly impressive in the stout float and cream that accompanied the cobbler.


The teams made such good use of the secret ingredient that the initial vote was a tie. According to the rules, the No. 1 dish of the evening determines the winner in the event of a tie. Zambra’s apple cobbler sealed the win.


Goff advances to the semifinals, which will take place the week of August 19, during the Asheville Wine & Food Festival. Next week’s challenge, April 30, features the culinary creations of chefs Cary Shackelford of Deerfield and Anthony Cerrato of Strada Italiano. For tickets, visit




-Platinum Whiskey-cured salmon with whiskey pineapple chutney, roasted spaghetti squash, brown butter-Platinum Whiskey emulsion, marcona puree

-Oak Reserve Whiskey-marinated strip loin with Oak Reserve Whiskey-glazed shrimp, confit potatoes, braised kale, and Oak Reserve Whiskey barbecue sauce

-Voted No. 1 Dish: Blonde Whiskey-tinted apple cobbler with Blonde Whiskey anglaise, vanilla ice cream, macerated berries, Blonde Whiskey stout float, and Blonde Whiskey cream


Lexington Avenue Brewery

-Chestnut pork tonkatsu, Blonde Whiskey and ramp grits, Oak Reserve Whiskey-glazed pineapple, Blonde Whiskey sour sauce, pan jus

-Blonde Whiskey ginger salmon with grilled squash, lime brown butter, crispy ramp leaves, Platinum Whiskey sticky rice

-Cinnamon waffle with Oak Reserve Whiskey crème anglaise, lavender ice cream with Blonde Whiskey mint julep redux and mint salt


Ingrid is a personal chef and menu planner, author of the cooking blog Edible, and a guest chef with She Reads online book club, for which she creates dishes inspired by each month's reading selection.