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Lakewood Ranch chef wins food competition in Miami with duck fat cake

Chef Louis Robinson’s flour-less chocolate cake, made with duck fat and garnished with a compressed papaya-lime sauce, allspice cream and toasted cashews.
Chef Louis Robinson’s flour-less chocolate cake, made with duck fat and garnished with a compressed papaya-lime sauce, allspice cream and toasted cashews.

Lakewood Ranch-based chef Louis Robinson likes to keep his cooking game fresh. Competitions like the one in which he was crowned champion this week help him do that.

Robinson, who owns Spice pop-up restaurant, traveled to Miami to compete in Chef’s Plate, a traveling competition organized by Chef’s Roll.

Chef’s Roll was born out of a desire to help busy chefs with online image upkeep.

“Working chefs often didn’t have the time or budget to create a customized web portfolio, and existing job sites didn’t have the tools to bring a chef’s unique skill set and experience to life,” according to the Chef’s Roll website.

The competition was held at BRAVA, a restaurant within the Adrienne Arsht Center, the home of performing arts in Miami-Dade. Robinson competed against chef Ryan Peters of the Ocean Reef Club restaurant in Key Largo.

The two chefs were challenged to use three different ingredients in an appetizer, entree and dessert round. The three-course meal was served to a room of 65 guests and five judges. BRAVA executive chef Brad Kilgore and Antonio Bachour, pastry chef and owner of Bachour Bakery & Bistro in Miami, were two of the judges.

“It was a big deal to serve to those guys,” Robinson said.

He enjoys competing not only for the skill-sharpening aspect but also because it gives him a chance to represent Sarasota. The particular dish that Robinson felt put him over the top to win the competition was a flour-less duck fat chocolate cake. The challenge ingredient in the dessert round was a Peruvian 63 percent cocoa chocolate made by the Valrhona Chocolate brand.

Robinson describes making the cake:

“We substituted the butter or the oils for making cake and used duck fat,” Robinson said. “I got a lot of help with that recipe from Isaac Correa, the head chef at Baker & Wife. We paired the cake with flavors of papaya and lime. We did a compressed papaya lime sauce with an allspice cream and some toasted cashews. Antonio Bachour gave it a 10 out of 10 and said he couldn’t have ranked it higher.”

Robinson hosts his pop-up restaurant, Spice, at Baker & Wife once a month. And he’s considering putting the flour-less duck fat chocolate cake on a future Spice menu.

To find out where Spice will pop up next and what will be on the menu, visit spiceflorida.com/events/.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

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