Tipp City chef wins Diced in Dayton

TIPP CITY — Coldwater Cafe’s Executive Chef Katy Evans was declared the winner of Diced in Dayton Chef Challenge on Sept. 13.

The first ever Diced in Dayton is a chef challenge created by Miami Valley Meals (MVM) to show participating chefs and attendees what MVM does on a daily basis, use unpredictable ingredients to create meals for those in the community who are limited in their ability to get food.

Evans attended Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and has been a chef for 15 years. Originally from Urbana, she found her way to Tipp City and Coldwater Cafe in 2011 as a sous chef, until 2015, when she was promoted to executive chef.

“I’m just very fortunate to work here. My boss’ name is Nick Hoover, he owns Coldwater and Bodega (Market) and I definitely attribute a lot of my success to him. He saw something in me when I was 21 years old. He hired me the day that I walked in and less than four years later, I took his job (as executive chef),” said Evans.

MVM reached out to Evans to ask her to be a part of Diced in Dayton and she was the first participating chef announced. Diced in Dayton had two components to the competition. The first was the main competition for all 12 chefs to compete. For the first competition, chefs were sent their ingredients baskets a week before the competition to prepare their dishes, the chefs were told to prepare enough for 250 people. The chefs were split into four groups, of three chefs each, and each of the four groups received a different ingredients basket.

Evans received a basket with zucchini, squash, pork loin, red plums and quinoa. She used their focaccia bread dough that they make in-house and combined it with cooked quinoa to make bread to toast for the base of the course. They then cooked the zucchini down with herbs, shallots and wine before pressing all the liquid from it and adding it to European butter with brie to put on the toast. For the pork, Evans spent four hours dry brining the meat before slow roasting it. Finally she made a red plum hot pepper jelly. No fire was allowed at the event and so most of the work was done before the competition. At the competition, Evans only had to toast the bread and assemble the dish for attendees and judges to taste.

This dish won Evans both people’s and judge’s choice in the first round of the competition. The second half of Diced in Dayton was more like what Evans was expecting. The judge’s choice and the people’s choice runner-up, since Evans had won both awards in the first round, had to compete head-to-head on stage in front of the attendees and judges.

According to Evans, the second competition against the people’s choice runner-up was more like “Chopped” on the Food Network, as the competition was live and on the spot, but it still showed the chefs what MVM must handle on a daily basis. Her ingredients did not seem to go together and the pantry the chefs had access to was minimal. She was given shrimp, bacon and ham glaze and access to the minimal pantry to come up with a dish. Evans made street tacos with a bourbon bacon jam with pickled onions and peppers, using a small burner and three pans.

“I wasn’t proud of my dish that I had made. It was just difficult and was not up to my standards, I’m very hard on myself. I walked off the stage and I walked up to my boss and said ‘I didn’t win,’” said Evans

Despite how she felt about the dish she created for the head-to-head competition, Evans did win the competition making her the winner of the first ever Diced in Dayton.

All of the proceeds from Diced in Dayton, mainly from ticket sales for the event, went to Miami Valley Meals to help provide healthy meals to those in need.

“Anything that we can do to give back, we’re happy to do … I’m happy to do anything to help Dayton and help a charity, that’s very important to my boss (Nick Hoover) too, to help others in need,” said Evans.