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Experimental Chef Night celebrated its 10th event on Artisan Alley Nov. 4, inviting chefs from around the area to “crush some sandos” (translation: create delicious sandwiches).

They competed for the honors of having the best presentation or taste, and for most experimental.

Experimental Chef Night, a series of culinary events created by Lake Helen resident Aaron Preston, had its first event in July 2017, hosted by Preston and his girlfriend, Stephanie Sousa, along with co-host Nick Stocker. This trio have hosted every event to date.

The draw of Experimental Chef Night is creative themes in unusual venues. Every event takes on its own character.

Previous standout events included the Asian Twist, which took over the DeLand restaurant Twisted Chopstick, and Backyard BBQ, hosted by City Limits Taproom.

In a previous Foodie File, writer Ryan Rougeux covered the “Primitive Edition,” which was held on a farm and required all the chefs to cook on open fires.

<img class="wp-image-1177 size-large" src="https://www.beacononlinenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/82f8ea8e5c2da89ee71d52e72b9f0f3d-scaled.jpg" alt="LOW-CARB BLT — The Guilt-Free Candied BLT won the taste category at the latest Experimental Chef Night event. The sandwich featured low-carb bread made with egg whites, along with butter lettuce, candied bacon, spicy tomato jam and a garlic aioli.” width=”696″ height=”372″ />

LOW-CARB BLT — The Guilt-Free Candied BLT won the taste category at the latest Experimental Chef Night event. The sandwich featured low-carb bread made with egg whites, along with butter lettuce, candied bacon, spicy tomato jam and a garlic aioli.

The most recent event, titled “Crush Some Sandos,” featured seven local chefs all bringing their own unique twist to the sandwich formula.

“The ultimate goal here is to give chefs, line cooks and foodies the opportunity to try experimental dishes without the stress of a live restaurant service,” said Preston.

With that idea being the building block of the event, the organizers encourage as many people as possible to come out and give the chefs the unbiased feedback they seek when it comes to whether they should serve these dishes at their restaurants.

All seven of the event’s chefs competed to win in one of three categories: best presentation, most experimental and best tasting.

A trophy was awarded to the first-place winner in each of those categories.

First-time attendee Abra Wright won best taste for her Guilt-Free Candied BLT.

The sandwich was designed to be low-carb, with bread made of egg whites, sort of like a meringue.

Ann-Marie and Blair Willacker won best presentation for their Boudin Waffle Sandwich, while most experimental was secured by Nick Stocker and his Thai Chili Ice Cream Sandwich.

Karen Bures, a regular attendee of the Experimental Chef Night events, said while the event was well-organized, the food could have been a little more consistently made.

<img class="wp-image-1178 size-large" src="https://www.beacononlinenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/f0269ff90f1b071e77bfd689a71fc8d6-scaled.jpg" alt="CHARCUTERIE SANDWICH — Ryan Rougeux and Nate Flynn fix up some Charcuterie sandwiches, made from various kinds of meats and cheeses one would expect to see on a charcuterie board.” width=”696″ height=”522″ />

CHARCUTERIE SANDWICH — Ryan Rougeux and Nate Flynn fix up some Charcuterie sandwiches, made from various kinds of meats and cheeses one would expect to see on a charcuterie board.

A usual staple of the events — experimental cocktails — was absent at this one.

The change was made as a nod to the several nearby quality drinking establishments, like Cafe DaVinci, Nest and Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co.

In a Facebook post that went out prior to the event, the organizers said, “Feel free to stumble in and out of any of these fine establishments to sate your raging alcoholism.”

Near the end of the night, it started to rain, and some of the sandwich artists relocated into the nearby shelter provided by the Artisan Alley Garage.

Regardless of the downpour at the end of the event, Preston was enthusiastic.

“We’re still working the kinks out, like weather, and figuring out how to pay chefs for food cost without having to go out-of-pocket anymore,” he said. “I think we’re just about there, and we’re very excited for the next event after the first of the [new] year.”

I’m certainly excited to see where the event goes next, and to see what the theme will be.

To stay up to date with the Experimental Chef Night event series, be sure to join their Facebook group. Search for “Experimental Chef Night,” or visit www.tiny.cc/expchef.

<img class="wp-image-1179 size-large" src="https://www.beacononlinenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/edb2ff2187eae4f0e30e726978a6c18c-scaled.jpg" alt="IN THE ALLEY — Patrons of the latest Experimental Chef Night event mingle and peruse the various vendors’ offerings set up as part of the event in Artisan Alley. The event brought out seven chefs, who all created interesting twists on the sandwich concept. Vendors included The Anointed Olive, Deli Fresh Threads, Scullery and Brandywine Liquor.” width=”696″ height=”464″ />

IN THE ALLEY — Patrons of the latest Experimental Chef Night event mingle and peruse the various vendors’ offerings set up as part of the event in Artisan Alley. The event brought out seven chefs, who all created interesting twists on the sandwich concept. Vendors included The Anointed Olive, Deli Fresh Threads, Scullery and Brandywine Liquor.

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