Danielle, Jane, myself, Curt, Scott, Julie, David and Christo with our finished dishes.

Danielle, Jane, myself, Curt, Scott, Julie, David and Christo with our finished dishes.

I would not call it cheating. I just have to say that from the outset. I would call it creative use of ingredients not on the “approved” list but available to all. If they’d only thought of it. But only I did. That is my badge of honor and I will wear it proudly.

We are, all of us, fast friends. The Char-Broil All Star bloggers started as a group of strangers from all over the country and from different walks of life. But we are now a solid band of culinary nerds on parade. Until the grilling competition. Then we become Bobby Flay versus Morimoto in our own delusional version of Kitchen Stadium.

Char-Broil gets all of its bloggers together every year in some unimaginably luxurious setting. We’re pretty stoked about that. After meetings and demonstrations and what-not we get to the meat of the matter. A Chopped-style grilling competition. Winners get bragging rights for an entire year. This year, in Atlantic Beach, Florida, the focus was on seafood. We got a red snapper fillet, some calamari and head-on shrimp. And four ingredients we had to use: a blood orange, sun-dried tomatoes, collard greens and…ta da!…chocolate. There were additional ingredients: lemons, parsley, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper.

I am shocked that anyone noticed I had a giant log of butter at my station. Honestly, doesn't everyone have better things to do?

I am shocked that anyone noticed I had a giant log of butter at my station. Honestly, doesn’t everyone have better things to do?

So why would you not want to make a lovely blood orange juice and butter sauce to go over your grilled red snapper? What? You have no butter? Why would you not ask Sheila, my new best friend and the bartender, to procure a little butter from the kitchen? If only it had not come in a giant log. If only I had been able to conceal the butter under a napkin. If only, when Mary from Char-Broil asked what the giant log of butter was, I would have said, “My medicine. I can’t be without it, even for a second.”

For the record, Christo Gonzales used white wine. White wine was not on the approved list. Did anyone say a single solitary word to him about it? Did anyone actually notice that he used it since he was drinking heavily at the time and it could have just been his drink? It’s not as hard to conceal a few wee drops of wine as it is an entire foot-long log of butter.

My teammate, Curt McAdams of livefire, was a trooper. He never even questioned my easily-detected deception. And he didn’t even wince when I took the bold step of adding the chocolate to the collards, which turned out to be a triumph.

Curt took the award-winning photo of our dish. Yes, like children at the end of a Little League season, we all won a category. Danielle and Jane won the big prize, though, for a very fetching entry that involved stuffing seafood into shells. Hey, wait a minute. Shells. Were they on the approved list? Curt and I may have to appeal this to the International Char-Broil Court of Unfair and Arbitrary Judging. I’ll look up the address in a minute.

Finished dish Curt and Catherine

 Livefire Photography, copyright 2013


  1. Curt
    April 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    We may have also been the only team to stuff the calamari. The chocolate on the greens was genius, though!

    • Catherine Mayhew
      Catherine MayhewReply
      April 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      I think I saw one other plate that had stuffed calamari, but can’t be sure. After we took the “rule” to drink a glass of wine seriously, I was not quite as alert.

      • Curt
        April 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

        I almost forgot… We should have gotten extra points for that! Did you actually drink yours, too?

  2. christo
    April 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    hahahaha – drinking heavily – I was having sierra mist with grenadine I just happened to have the wine that Julie (my partner) brought over and I saw it was there so a used a splash – but you are right it wasnt on the list either – now that brings up another question – where did the winners get those seashells and were they sanitized before they put the food in them??

    • Catherine Mayhew
      Catherine MayhewReply
      April 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      You know I’m poking fun. But I think those shells do merit some investigation. ­čÖé

  3. Julie
    April 23, 2013 at 12:54 am

    A little butter and white wine never hurt anybody, Catherine. On the contrary without those two ingredients France would have never come to be. Paris would be some Belgian outpost, Picasso would have been a Spanish pig farmer… As for our little competition, I have no beef with any of the improvisations, only with the fact that one team used the raw fish platter as their final presentation platter. Did anyone notice that? I did!

  4. christo
    April 23, 2013 at 7:16 am

    seems like this particular competition is steeped in controversy – and just for the record we made a squid sausage!

  5. April 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    […] The ingredients that had to be used were: red snapper, squid, whole shrimp, greens, blood orange and dark chocolate. We added a secret ingredient, which was NOT banned, but seemed to disqualify us… Butter! But it made everything great! I’d talk more about it, but Catherine did such a great job describing it, that I’ll just leave it to her. […]

  6. Curt
    April 24, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I think we should all file protests, even the winners!

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