Chef Tee Is Runner-Up In Food Network Competition

“Do I think Ryan and I represented D.C. well? Exceptionally well,” said a proud Chef “Tee” Terrell Danley after he and teammate, bar owner Ryan Gordon (pictured on the right), earned runner-up honors during Food Network’s Chefs vs. City.  Shot in the Nation’s Capital and recently aired on Food Network, the entertaining race pitted the D.C. duo against Food Network Chefs Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino.

The rules were simple. The first team to cross the finish line after completing five grueling food challenges would be the winner.  However, the game was tough because the competitors had to decipher clues to figure out what and where the challenges were. Then they had to fight Washington, D.C.’s notoriously busy traffic in cars and on foot to get to each contest.  Chef Tee’s restaurants Brightwood Bistro and Creme Cafe and Gordon’s Bar The Pug were featured on the show.

In the beginning, both sides predicted victory.  Team D.C. dubbed itself “The Brunts” and affectionately referred to the challengers as “The Pretty Boys,” implying that “The Brunts” had more heart and skills than “The Pretty Boys” who were just fluff.

The D.C. duo had crowds cheering them on at nearly every location and the advantage of knowing how to get around the District, but Cosentino started his career in D.C., so he knew his way around too.

“We are going to make Chris realize that he was only a guest here,” Chef Tee said early on in the competition.  “This isn’t his hometown.”

Chef Tee made good on that promise during the first challenge in which he and Gordon beat the network guys at making a cedar-planked salmon on a split cedar branch–a traditional Native American technique that dates back generations.

Scorecard — Brunts 1, Pretty Boys 0.

Cosentino and Sanchez came back strong to win round two by beating the hometown guys in a race to construct a two-foot ornate edible sculpture.  The guys had to work with superheated molten sugar, turning the sticky, melted down goo into a masterpiece that you could eat when it cooled and solidified.

Chef Tee and Gordon reclaimed the lead when they were the first to make a traditional Middle Eastern Shawarma, a rack of lamb and beef that’s stacked 18-inches high and 25-inches around.

Both sides struggled with challenge number four–replicating a vegetable art sculpture centerpiece made of cucumbers, carrots, melons and other produce.  The chefs had to rely on precision, creativity and knife skills to get the job done.

“It’s just bringing back culinary school nightmares for me,” Sanchez said.

To make the challenge more difficult, workers moved the original sculpture so far away that the competitors had to use binoculars to see it.  Eventually the Food Network chefs came out on top, leaving the locals trailing, stressed and panicked.

Team D.C. finally faced the last hurdle–making and eating a Chinese delicacy called a Century Egg.  This 100-year-old preserved egg has a black, gelatinous exterior and a creamy green yoke.  It smells putrid and Sanchez described the taste as “fermented sulfur.”  The teams wore gloves while carefully making the eggs with lye, a chemical that can burn off your skin.   Then each guy wolfed down two eggs that had been preserved for nearly a year.  The Food Network pair finished first but Team D.C. was close behind.

The race to the finish line was intense because both sides had to navigate through D.C.’s gridlocked rush hour traffic.  In the end, Chef Tee was last to cross the finish line.  His aging 46-year-old body worked against him.

“It came down to a broken old man,” he said with a smile. “I’ll take that any day.”

Chefs vs. City airs on Food Network.  The show features Sanchez and Cosentino competing against different teams of local chefs.

Published on August 28, 2010

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