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Four local cooks duking it out in downtown’s Battle of the Chefs
Downtown Drafts organized cooking competition this month
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Four local downtown Gainesville chefs compete in a cook-off featuring Left Nut Brewing beer. Eric Baehr, Austin Calvert, Josh Hogan, and Jeremy Wilkson will each be assigned an LNB beer to cook a dish with.

You may have heard about some unexpected things happening over at Downtown Drafts on the Gainesville square recently and one more is on the horizon: Battle of the Chefs.

You’ve probably heard of the bacon and wine pairing Downtown Drafts hosted in June, or the halloween candy and wine pairing in October. They were all fan favorites, so now, Downtown Drafts is stepping it up.

“We’ve done several wine pairings and beer pairings lately with local chefs and we were just getting interest from so many, so I figured it’d be neat to bring multiple chefs in on one night,” said Aimee Hoecker, co-owner of Downtown Drafts.

The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 18 at Downtown Drafts. There will be 65 tickets available for $20 apiece on the day of the event.

Battle of the Chefs

Where: Downtown Drafts, 115 Bradford St. NE, Gainesville

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 18

Tickets: $20 at the door

More info: Facebook

Four chefs from the downtown area will compete offsite, each creating a different bite-size meal using a beer from Left Nut Brewing Co. The beer will be provided to the chefs in growlers and the rules are “wide open.”

“They can do whatever they want,” Hoecker said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with with their creative minds. It could be four desserts, it could be four appetizers. And whatever it is, we’ll just roll with it. But I think it’s going to be delicious.”

The chefs will be using Left Nut’s Mighty Banyan, The Prime Minister Porter, Shade Tail Nutty and Leaping Lena. Each is a different type of beer, creating a different challenge and unique flavor for each bite.

The chefs, from Recess Southern Gastro-pub, Scott’s Downtown, Mule Camp Tavern and K&E’s Catering, will have the chance to earn a gift basket — along with bragging rights — if they win. But the real prize is the beer. The winning chef will get to create his own cask of beer at Left Nut Brewing Co.

Hoecker said she’s never been to an event like this before, but it’s something she wanted to try out because it falls in line with everything else they do.

“It basically just popped into my head,” Hoecker said. “I thought it would be a fun event to do. I mean we come up with some pretty off-the-wall stuff sometimes, and this is just another one of them.”

For Downtown Drafts, and many other businesses on the square, keeping things local is the goal of events like Battle of the Chefs. That’s why the chefs will be using beer a brewery just down the road. And that’s why they’re all chefs who currently work at or have worked at restaurants on the square.

“We try to keep everything local for the most part,” Hoecker said. “We figured bringing in local chefs, they would bring their friends. Everyone knows them and wants to see them and we’re just always looking for fun, new ideas. And if this goes well, we can always do it again with more of the local chefs.”

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Four local downtown Gainesville chefs will this month compete in a cook-off featuring Left Nut Brewing beer, including a chef at Recess Southern Gastro Pub.
Austin Calvert is a chef at Recess, one of the go-to lunch spots in Gainesville. The restaurant, which turns into more of a bar atmosphere at night, serves up classic pub fare, including fried pickles, flatbreads, burgers, steaks and even meatloaf. And it has what you look for in a Southern restaurant, too, with sides like grits, collard greens and fried green tomatoes.

Josh Hogan takes care of things at Mule Camp Tavern, which recently updated its menu, to offer more to its customers looking for a place to stop in for a quick bite. Mule Camp has something for everyone — you name it, it’s probably on the menu. The tavern is open until 2 a.m.

Scott’s Downtown, where Jeremy Wilkson used to be a chef, is your upscale, fine-dining option on the square. Fried calamari, New Zealand lamb lollipops, braised beef and butter-poached lobster tail bring the menu to the top of the list when you’re looking to go out with a date or knock out a business lunch.

K&E’s Catering Company, owned by Eric Baehr, recently started serving Gainesville offering lots of options. Baehr likes to keep it interesting with offerings like dijon horseradish crusted short ribs.

Each chef’s experience will bring a different option for guests to taste, a mix Hoecker is happy to have.

“We know everyone in the downtown area for the most part, so we just reached out to a few we thought would be interested and they jumped in on it,” Hoecker said.

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A former chef of Scott's Downtown is competing in a Battle of the Chefs event this month at Downtown Drafts. - photo by Erin O. Smith
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