Top Chef at The Players Club Sawgrass

Amidst cold January temperatures in Jacksonville, three chefs at The Players Club Sawgrass broke a sweat over a hottest contest in town.  TPC Executive Chef, Hector Gonzalez, laid down a challenge to his staff and they bite at the chance to compete for the title Top Chef.

Members and guests arrived for their first ever Club culinary competition. They savored vegetable and goat cheese ravioli with scallop mousse topped with stuffed calamari in a Pomodoro sauce, prepared by Tim Cacia. Tim’s flavorful recipe calls for braising two wine corks in the sauce, to keep the calamari from becoming tough.

Jay Norris cooked a Lebanese inspired Dukkah rubbed lamb loin with spring- roll wrapped parcels of spinach and feta. A dollop of hummus and a roast tomato completed the presentation.  Chef Norris said he feels comfortable working with lamb as he trained in Australia and New Zealand, where the meat is extremely popular.

Marvyn Mizell whipped up a colorful entrée of lemon meringue grouper with squid ink risotto. A raspberry

horseradish reduction was drizzled on the plate which further added to the dramatic display. I heard comments from many folks who said they were surprised with this delightfully light and unusual dish.

After an hour and a half of sipping complimentary wine and sampling the entrees, the tasters voted. Chef Hector Rodriquez announced the winner and presented prizes. Chef Cacia placed third, Chef Mizell earned runner-up and Chef Norris won the award of Top Chef honors, and perhaps earned the nickname TC of TPC.

Social and Member Events Coordinator, Jamie Fowler added, “With such great crowd support, we’re going to plan a similar spring event, perhaps a grilling competition on the lawn.”  I won’t miss it.