Ready! Set! Cook! The brilliance of five Indiana sous chefs came out in full force at the inaugural Fast and Furious Forks competition held at The Chef’s Academy in downtown Indianapolis. Edible Indy, C&T Design and The Chef’s Academy partnered to create a cooking competition highlighting the talent of Central Indiana sous chefs creating Midwest harvest cuisine to benefit and raise awareness for Second Helpings.

This private, invitation only event encouraged attendees to bring bags or boxes of rice to donate directly to the pantry of the local not-for-profit, Second Helpings. Demos, tastings and VIP Pit Passes thrilled the audience as the sous chefs competed for the 2015 Fast and Furious Forks title with six local ingredients in 60 minutes. Each sous chef had a team consisting of an assistant of their choosing and a student from The Chef’s Academy.

Who were the chefs? Chef Nick Traeger of Public Greens, Chef John Herndon of Plow and Anchor, Chef Erica Oakley of The Alexander, Chef Rachel Hanson of JW Marriott and Chef Noah Miles of Bluebeard, stepped up to the plate and served unique cuisine based around rustic Midwest comfort food.

What were they competing for? C&T Design provided all of the team prizes. The winning sous chef took home a Globe induction range with a Vollrath sauté pan. Their assistant won a Hamilton Beach commercial blender and The Chef’s Academy student won a Dexter-Russell knife set. In addition, the winning restaurant won a $1,000 C&T Design gift certificate. As a bonus, the attendees voted for a people’s choice award and the winning chef received a $150 Cunningham Restaurant Group gift card.

Who were the judges? The judges consisted of foodies, chefs and local personalities. The Indy Star’s local food writer, Liz Biro, joined Kristi Lee of the Bob and Tom Show, Chef Tony Hanslits of The Chef’s Academy and Chef Liz Gimenez of Second Helpings to crown the winning team.

Piazza Produce, Viking Lamb, Tyner Pond Farm, Sun King Brewery and The Chef’s Academy came together to create the ingredient list for the competition. Butternut and acorn squash, apples, onions, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and Sun King Wee Mac beer were the set baskets with a mystery protein provided five minutes prior to the start of the event. Chefs were provided with ground lamb, bacon, brats, whole chickens and chuck tenders with the twist of being able to barter their protein with other chefs.

Attendees of the event were encouraged to purchase a VIP Pit Pass, with all funds benefiting Second Helpings. The passes allowed attendees an up close and personal opportunity to be in the heat of the kitchen with the chefs during the event, along with the chance to bid on several silent auction items.

The chefs didn’t disappoint with their creations. John Herndon of Plow and Anchor created beer pancakes with breakfast lamb sausage, carrot puree atop a Brussels sprout squash seed salad. Noah Miles of Bluebeard wowed with sausage and fall vegetables topped with a mustard demi. Rachel Hanson of the JW Marriott put her spin on traditional shepherd’s pie with her bite-sized 3-meat meatballs featuring lamb, bratwurst and bacon with carrots and Brussels sprout glacage. Erica Oakley of the Alexander dug deep with her twist on fried chicken with berry compote. And Nick Traeger of Public Greens incorporated his cultural roots into a savory heartland goulash with an over-the-top local sorghum.

Who won? The grand prize went to Nick Traeger’s team, and people’s choice went to Rachel Hanson’s team.

The first-time event raised just over $1,000 and 172 pounds of rice for Second Helpings. Edible Indy, C&T Design and The Chef’s Academy will be partnering with Second Helpings again in 2016 for the second annual Fast and Furious Forks event with a mission to raise more awareness, funds and needed food for the organization.

For information on becoming a participant, sponsor or vendor at this event, contact Jennifer Rubenstein at

  Jennifer Rubenstein, Edible Indy on the left and Libby Shoop, C&T Design present the over winning team with their grand prizes- from left to right: Danielle Lewis, Chef's Academy, Josh Bowers, the Loft, Nick Traeger, Public Greens People's choice award winning dish - 3 meat meatballs - created by Chef Rachel Hanson, JW Marriott Chef Erica Oakley, The Alexander with her twist on fried chicken Chef Noah Miles, Bluebeard with his Tyner Pond Farms Brat Sausage and mustard demi Chef John Herndon, Plow and Anchor with his Sun King beer pancakes and breakfast sausage dish. The chefs hard at work during the competition. Photo by Katie Hopper

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