I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Amadeus, a Jacksonville native; he began his culinary journey early cooking with his mother from Philadelphia and grandmother from Puerto Rico that gave him an incredible head start in the kitchen. His love of cooking deepened while serving in the United States Navy; Chef Amadeus calls his style of cooking world fusion and uses his blend of salt-free spices called Southern Passion as a seasoning for his creative, visually appealing and taste tantalizing dishes.
Chef Amadeus, winner of Food Networks Extreme Chef “Mexican Showdown” tempts taste buds with tantalizing dishes, inspired by global cuisine and fueled by a passion for great food. His latest venture Extreme Food Fight puts fresh local products in the hands of local chefs to showcase their raw talent
Q Tell us about Extreme Food Fights and the concept behind it.
Chef Amadeus stated local farmers were asking how to get their products out into the hands of local chefs and chefs have been asking him the same questions how do they get local produce and goods to showcase in their restaurants? Thus sparked an idea. With the beginning of Extreme Food Fights, Chef Amadeus was looking to create a culinary event that would excite not only the competing chefs but the audience as well.
Q So what makes it extreme?
The set time limits associated with each dish, each chef is not only working against the other contestants, but the clock, plus the constants are not allowed to see the protein choice until it’s time to cook. That can be a total game changer.
Q How do you select chefs?
Since my first local competition in June, the local chefs have been seeking me out for a spot in one of the events, plus they are recommending other chefs. Chef Amadeus is always on the lookout would love to engage a female; he believes they would bring an interesting side to the competition. He stated women have a different thought process and he would like to see a lady come in and “just run it.”He has been reaching out to the local female chefs in Jacksonville and Georiga and is hopeful for a candidate soon.
Q Who decides on product selection?
A combination of people, after collaboration with, farmers and local food sponsors, the decisions is based on what’s in the field or currently In season, what protein product is available, and what spices will be needed. A significant factor in product selection is the time constraints allowed for each dish to be cooked.
Q What does the ticket price include?
Right now customers are asking for food tastings, which is almost impossible to do in the food fight setting. Down the road, there will be an Extreme Food Fight dinner, where chefs will compete with a course and everyone will have a dish. Right now pricing it 20$ in advance, 25$ at the door, chefs are creating appetizers offered before the competition begins. Drink specials at a reduced rate and raffles are ongoing during the contest, prizes include, being a guest judge at the table, free tickets to upcoming events, or an Extreme Food Fight Key Club.
Q Can you explain to the readers about the Extreme Food Fight Key Club and how that works?
It is a means of making the experience more personal for the member; any local restaurants participating may include tastings, meeting with the chefs, discounts for food and drinks. As a member, one would also enjoy discounts on upcoming events, and events for member only. Key Club members will also be the first to know about upcoming events and be able to attend events to preview dishes. At this time there are five local restaurants, and one in Brunswick Georgia, honoring the membership, and new locations added weekly. The vision here is to introduce customers to local spots as opposed to chain restaurants.
Let’s change course and talk about Chef Amadeus.
Q I understand you have your line of spices, Southern Passion tell us about them?
Yes, they are my blend of salt-free flavors, right now they may be purchased at any of my events that I attend. Chef shared he enjoys the personal connection he gets when he sells his product in person as opposed to mail order. Many of his customers ask him to sign the bottles, and he mentioned using FaceTime or Skype to assist his clients in answering any questions they may have about the correct use of the flavors or issues about recipes. Chef also leverages the product to give back to the local communities. Chef is passionate about working high school culinary programs with part of the proceeds from the sale of the Southern Passion product going back to the school program.
Q Do you still cook professionally for private events?
Being a private chef yes I enjoy this more than anything. I go directly into the home and create amazing dishes. He mentioned a Door Knock session that is very popular with his clients, where he cooks the meal with only the products available in the home at the time he arrives. He mission is to create a culinary experience to please all the senses, in small intimate settings. He travels all over the country cooking for private events, spending much of his time in the Pacific North West.
Q The one person you would most like to cook for?
I am sentimental, of all the people I have ever cooked for, in the past to now I would love to cook for my grandmother. I learned how to cook from my mother and my grandmother, but would like to opportunity to prepare a meal for her at the level I am cooking now. He shared a sad memory of the Pilon given to him by his grandmother stolen while he was on a road trip and how very much that item meant to him. He also stated that even today when cooking Puerto Rican food, he can’t help but think of his younger days spent with his grandmother.
Q Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Give back to the food industry to build a bridge between the culinary programs in high school and the restaurant industry. Taking the talented kids and bring them into the restaurants bypassing the middle man culinary schools. The availability of more chefs mentors in culinary programs, developing teams, to create passion, not just a job. Long range, creating high school culinary programs, which are recognized for their accomplishments and compete at local, state and national levels.
Q Any last thoughts or words?
“Where do I start?” Support the Extreme Food Fights, if you are a vendor a chef, there are no rules. Chefs are not picked based on their bio; he feels the proof is in the pudding, and when you are up on the stage competing, well that’s it. Extreme Food Fight is my attempt to make it an industry night if you’re looking for cooks, chefs, new ideas, new restaurants; this is the place to be. I want to create passion cooks as opposed to paycheck cooks. For those attendees not in the restaurant business, it’s an opportunity to meet who is preparing your food, see them in action and taste some great dishes.
I have attended several of these events, so I feel qualified to state they are great fun for foodies as well and those who would like to know more about the chefs and restaurants in the area. Also, I have taken the liberty to add some of the candid shots from a few of the events. Come out and meet your chefs.