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Chefs from West Hartford and Surrounding Area to Compete in 86'D: A Culinary Collision

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Chefs will engage in a cook-off, contending for ‘food supremacy’ in 86’D: A Culinary Collision, with judges deciding the winner and guests enjoying food and drink while they watch and cheer. 

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By Ronni Newton

86’D: A Culinary Collision is a mystery, a competition, and a food and drink feast all rolled into one event – or make that a series of events – that begins on Monday, Feb. 6.

The competition begins with 16 chefs from the area – from notable restaurants in West Hartford and other nearby towns – competing in eight rounds before a live audience.

All of the competitions will be held in restaurants with open kitchens, so guests can easily watch all of the action. The chefs will create at least two dishes, in 45 minutes, using three “mystery” ingredients.

And there’s plenty of mystery in addition to the secret ingredients, all adding to the suspense.

Tickets are being sold in advance – and a sell-out is expected – but the location might not be announced until 24 hours in advance. Rest assured that all locations will be desirable, and within 5 miles of Hartford. All competitions begin at 10 p.m. (the chefs have to serve dinner at their own restaurants!) with the winner announced by midnight.

Organizers revealed early Friday morning that Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar, located at 32 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center, will host Round 1 of the competition.

The chefs for each round will be picked from names in hat, and each will get a few days notice (just a few), but will be sworn to secrecy, or at least from social media. Guests won’t know which chefs will be contending until they arrive.

The competition will be decided by three guest judges who will choose the winner, based on originality, flavor, plating, and cleanliness of their station.

And the guests get to enjoy the action as well as food. And drink. It’s not part of the competition, but each chef contending that evening must bring a mixologist/bartender with them to make a signature cocktail that can be enjoyed by the patrons. One drink – and beer “until it runs out” is included with the ticket purchase. Guests will also be served appetizers while they observe the chefs at work – and cheering is definitely encouraged.

“86’D” is used in the restaurant industry to mean something has run out, and it also has evolved to mean “get rid of” something – both meanings which work for this competition.

“The brainchild of Scott Miller of DORO Restaurant Group, and with the help of Eat IN Connecticut, this ‘culinary collision,’ as we like to say, is being brought to life with the goal in mind of bringing the chef community together while shining the spotlight on the incredible talent behind the kitchens in our state’s many great restaurants,” said Kristen Fritz of West Hartford-based food and beverage marketing/public relations firm Eat In Connecticut.

“Our hope is to further connect the restaurant industry to the public. We also want to recognize the talent that our area has to offer,” said Fritz. “We are a growing food scene that deserves recognition.”

86’D is designed to be fun and festive – and it’s something brand new to the area.

“Chef battles have definitely been done in other cities, but none that we know of in the Greater Hartford area,” said Jeannette Dardenne of Eat IN Connecticut. ‘For the first year of 86’D we are highlighting chefs in our local community with whom we currently have relationships. We hope to expand the reach state-wide in the near future,” she said.

Chefs already signed on to engage in the competition include: Van Hurd, David Awad, Jesse Powers, Jason Welch, Hunter Morton, Prasad Chirnomula, Craig Hutchinson (OINK), Dante Paul Cistulli, Scott Damboise, Xavier Santiago, Eric Stagl, Roy Riedl, Renee Touponce, Niles Talbot, and Chris Sheehan.

Fritz and Dardenne are engaged every day in “telling the inside story about the culinary scene in our state.” Along with Miller, they are hoping to shine an even brighter spotlight on the talented chefs in the state through 86’D: A Culinary Collision.

The first round is Monday, Feb. 6, and the location will announced on the 86’D: A Culinary Collision Facebook page and on Eat IN Connecticut’s Instagram @eatinconnecticut.

The event begins at 10 p.m. and the winner will be announced at midnight.

Tickets are $20 in advance on the 86’D: A Culinary Collision website and $25 at the door. Tickets include a signature drink ticket, beer, and passed appetizers. Tickets are $25 at the door. Packages are also available for five battles ($75) and eight battles ($120).

All of the competitions take place on Mondays. Round 2 is March 6, Round 3 is March 20, Round 4 is April 3, Round 5 is April 17, Round 6 is May 15, Round 7 is Jue 5, and Round 8 is August 28.

A portion of the proceeds will support End Hunger CT.

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