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New BBQ, Blues & Brews Event To Kick Off SPAC’s Wine & Food Fest
NEW YORK CITY – Marc Murphy, a celebrated Manhattan restaurant owner, executive chef and a frequent judge on the Food Network’s highly rated program "Chopped," will be the host of the inaugural "BBQ, Brews & Blues" competition to kick off the annual Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s (SPAC) Saratoga Wine & Food Fest on Friday, September 5.
In addition to his work on "Chopped," Chef Murphy has also made appearances on "Iron Chef America," "Hot Chefs," "The Martha Stewart Show," "Make My Day," "Unique Eats," "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," "The Best Thing I Ever Made," "The Rachael Ray Show" and "The TODAY Show." He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp.
Reached by phone in Manhattan, Chef Murphy was forthcoming on a variety of topics. Interestingly, though he has lived (and cooked) in several of the world’s culinary capitals (including Paris, Milan and Monte Carlo) his trip next month will be his first ever to Saratoga Springs.
"I’m excited about this trip," he said. "I’ve heard so much about this place, the history and of SPAC itself."
While the fine points about how the BBQ, Brews & Blues competition will be structured are still being determined – even Chef Murphy was unaware of this "I’m ready for anything, though!" He said - he was familiar with some of the chefs that are part of the New York City team (see below) that will square off against some of their leading Capital Region counterparts.
However, "In something like this, I always have to give the edge going in to the home-based team." Chef Murphy said. "They can bring their best help, they know the local purveyors. In a competition, these are big advantages."
The wine and food festival reached out to Chef Murphy, who now is the owner of five leading New York City restaurants in addition to an event and catering company under the umbrella name Benchmarc, earlier this year.
Being a Food Network devotee, I had to ask him all about Chopped.
He enjoys the variety of judges that rotate through the panel. "It’s always a good day at that job." He said, noting that several are personal friends, citing fellow judge (and Iron Chef) Geoffrey Zakarian as someone who he recently took a trip with recently.
According to Chef Murphy, a typical single episode of "Chopped," which gets edited down to a 30-minute show, takes about 10 hours to shoot. "They spend a lot of time in between courses," he said, laughing. "It can get pretty messy out there with all the food flying around!" Iron Chef, on the other hand, is much quicker even though it is an hour show, as that particular competition involves cooking a complete meal in one continuous segment.
Of course, when you get one of the world’s great chefs on the line I have to have him pick a meal for us. So I set the scene: I’m at one of your restaurants, Let’s say Landmarc, chef’s table. Important client to impress. Money of course not a concern. I leave it to you, Chef Marc: what will I be served.
He didn’t hesitate. "Well, for appetizers, I’d set you up with a tasting array," he said. "Of course, sometimes the best of these would depend on seasonality and availability, but two popular apps that would be on that plate are our smoked mozzarella & ricotta fritters with a spicy tomato sauce and grilled scallion and tomato confit flatbread.
"For the salad course, we serve our chopped salad family style. It has celery, cucumber, hearts of palm, tomatoes and beets with balsamic vinaigrette.
"A popular fish course is our grilled salmon, served with ratatouille and parsley pistou (a sauce from Provençe made of basil, garlic, olive oil and sometimes Parmesan cheese and tomato paste).
"Ok, for the entrée I would select our 22 oz. grass fed bone-in painted hill farms ribeye steak, grilled. Since you are impressing a client, I’d probably slice it myself for you tableside. Dessert I’ll leave up to you; we always have a wide variety to choose from."
That’s why the chef is a judge, ladies and gents.
For more information about Chef Marc Murphy’s restaurants, visit
benchmarc-events.com. To learn more about SPAC’s Wine & Food Fest, visit spac.org
The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn!
The Lineups for the BBQ, Blues & Brews event at the Saratoga Wine & Food Fest at SPAC
Friday, September 5
Capital Region Restaurants and Chefs
Druthers Brewing Company- Chef Sean Comiskey
Angelo’s 677 Prime- Chef Jaime Ortiz
Henry Street Taproom- Chef Maria Mendez
The Brook Tavern- Chef Kyle Lewis
New York City Restaurants and Chefs
TESSA- Chef Cedric Tovar
Nice Matin & Marseille- Chef Andy D’Amico
Tolani- Chef Cesare De Chellis
Dukes Original Rodehouse NYC-
Chef Seth Lowenstein & Chef Nick Cataldo