Local chefs do battle in downtown Vallejo – Times-Herald

The proverbial gloves were off Friday night as two local chefs clashed in a culinary fight at Provisions in downtown Vallejo.

This isn’t the first time owner Nicole Hodge has gone toe-to-toe with Executive Chef Kyle Young of Napa, and it probably won’t be the last. The pair first fought in November 2021 with Hodge beating Young.

Friday night will be no different.

“It was closer than last time,” Young said as votes were counted on the whiteboard in the kitchen.

The 75-panel benches sold out quickly — and for good reason. An evening of summer vegetables was basically about the four dishes as each chef prepares an appetizer and an entree.

Chef Nicole Hodge works on her entry platter during a cooking competition against Executive Chef Kyle Young. (Chris Riley/Times Herald)

“Anything about Nicole we admire,” Don Lee said as he thought about which dish he votes for in blind judgment.

Lee sat down with Tana MacDonald as the two enjoyed the meal.

The couple owns a house in Vallejo but they work in Paris. They were adamant about getting to the competition.

“I’ve heard they’ve done this before and we haven’t made it, but when I saw it this time I made sure to be here and I thought it was a blast,” MacDonald said.

Hodge was confident from the start, with one win under her belt she was certain she would prevail.

“At 6 p.m. tonight we’re no longer friends,” Hodge jokingly urged Young as he plated the two appetizers side by side. “You know I’m going to win, right?”

A batch of heirloom watermelon and tomato encouraged Young’s gazpacho on the pallet as a prep for the first appetizer.

A pair of Brentwood’s delicious corn fritters are gently laid on a spread of ricotta with a fresh herb salad with cilantro. In the end, the crowd-favorite dish was roasted summer squash over cardamom-skimmed goat cheese with pickled turnip, tilting in Hodge’s favour.

Brentwood corn fritters on a ricotta spread with a fresh herb salad with cilantro were the first competing dish to hit the tables.  (Chris Riley/Times Herald)
Brentwood corn fritters on a ricotta spread accompanied by a fresh herb salad with cilantro were the first competing dish to hit the tables. (Chris Riley/Times Herald)

The youngsters battled again in the entry round with a pasta dish which happened with those who weren’t a fan of pasta cleaning their plate in general. Fresh bucatini with smoked basil almond pesto on a burrata was ready to ring the last bell, even before the last entree entered the table. Although the Rancho Gordo bean casserole with eggplant and Jimmy Nardello peppers ricotta over polenta was visually pleasing, the pasta was hard to forget.

After the votes were counted and Hodge came out on top, she made sure to show Young around so he could announce the results.

“It was fun,” Young said. “Nicole and I, we give each other a hard time but it’s all about love.”

“Come tomorrow for lunch and Cale will put one of my clothes on!” Hodge shouted as the full-bellied patrons left the restaurant.

“This is it Not Young shouted again.

The allotment is located at 300 Virginia Street and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days and 8 p.m. on Fridays, but is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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