{lifestyle} 2011 Cadillac Culinary Challenge Test Drive

The Cadillac Culinary Challenge Test Drive event is “where you can experience the very finest of cuisines and the very best of Cadillac.” It is a free culinary and test drive event sponsored by Bon AppetitEpicuriousShare Our Strength and of course, Cadillac.

Held in the upscale, Oakbrook Center, Cadillac encouraged the public to test drive their most popular models, the EscaladeCTSSTS, and SRX Crossover as well as their competitors, so that the test drivers can feel the difference right there and then. Genius.

Test drivers got a run down of all the features, as well as a personal product specialist who can answer questions about the Cadillac line of vehicles. Truly VIP service without the stress and pressure of having a car salesman breathing down your shirt!

If that wasn’t great enough, Cadillac also hosted a Culinary Challenge with one of the hottest and most talented chefs and restauranteurs, Chef David Burke and Chef Abel Cortes of E.leaven Food Company. Master of Ceremonies of the challenge was Mary Nolan, Chef de Cuisine for Bon Appetit Magazine. I was in Heeaaaaaaveeen! *Oprah voice*

The key ingredient for the challenge were bell peppers. This was right up my alley, as what I preach as Momma Cuisine is making “Great Everyday Meals” can be done with simple ingredients.  I couldn’t wait to see and taste what these two amazing chefs had up their sleeves for this sweet, delicious ingredient. Oh, and did I mention that I was asked to judge between the two dishes?! YIKES!

Chef Burke made a delicious (understatement),  and perfectly seared prime, house-aged for 55 days, his specialty of course,  with a homemade red pepper worschtershire as a sauce. He and Chef Rick Gresh, Executive Chef of Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel, worked well together executing their dishes.  They even made an Orange & Strawberry Tart with a very creative, Candied Bell Pepper Caramel.

On the other side, was Chef Abel Cortes of E.leaven Food Company.  E.leaven is an upscale, artisan bakery-cafe concept by Eben Dorros. Chef Cortes made an amazing Aji Panca Shrimp with red bell pepper mojo, and South American Chive Mashed Potatoes.  He also brought dessert of homemade macaroons. Done and done.

After the event was over and the crowds headed over to the test drive tent, I was able to chat with Chef Rick Gresh and Chef Abel Cortes. In introducing myself to Chef Rick, I told him about my blog and what it was all about. I said, “It’s a blog showing busy moms that great everyday meals can be done with simple ingredients and basic cooking techniques.” He nodded and said, “People should cook like that more! People think great cooking is hard, but it’s not!” We talked some more about great food and simple ingredients. I was so happy to hear all this from a big time chef of a fancy restaurant.

Chef Abel and I spoke about similar topics, “Making Great Everyday Meals”. In our conversation, he also introduced me to the owner of e.leaven, Eben Dorros who was at the event with with his family. The three of us chatted about the simple goodness of food made well, made right. His concept of an upscale bakery-cafe is about bringing his customers the everyday comforts of bread, pastries and great meals made with high-quality ingredients.

I was so empowered to be around like-minded people who feel so passionate about food. Food, whether enjoyed in a elegant setting, or casually in your home, is meant to bring you together with your loved ones. It even brings people together who would have never had a chance to meet, just like myself and the people I met today.


The Cadillac Culinary Challenge Test Drive is a tour across the country with seven more cities to go.

Houston, Texas – September 10-11

Plano, Texas – September 24-25

San Jose, California – October 8-9

Irvine, California – October 15-16

Glendale, California – October 22-23

Atlanta, Georgia – November 5-6

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – November 12-13

For more details visit

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