Ommegang Hop Chef Competition – Albany Recap

The winner of Brewery Ommegang and Saveur Magazine’s first-ever ‘Hop Chef Albany’ beer and food pairing competition is Executive Chef Jaime Ortiz of Mazzone Hospitality in Scotia, NY. His inventive “Rare of the Dog” captivated the crowd and judges alike and earned him the title. “Rare of the Dog” featured faux egg shooters of custard and spices, in a shooter of Rare Vos Amber Ale, with a honey thyme bacon chaser. The event took place this past Friday, June 8th at the 11 North Pearl Events Center in Albany with more than 200 attendees on hand. Ortiz will now be invited to square away with Washington DC Hop Chef Jeff Eng and the winner of upcoming Hop Chef Philadelphia at Ommegang’s annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival August 4th. A portion of the event proceeds benefits Taste of the Nation’s Share our Strength initiative, dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

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Eight chefs took part in the competition along with Chef Ortiz, including; Brian Bowden of Creo, Elliot Cunniff of Colonie Golf & Country Club, Marcus Guiliano of Aroma Thyme Bistro, AJ Jayapal of The Mallozzi Family, Rachel Mabb of Bitches Kitchen Catering, Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking & New World Bistro Bar and Paul Ozimek of Taste.

“Beer complements every kind of food; it’s a palate cleanser like champagne,’ said the champion, Chef Ortiz, ‘and as an ingredient it’s vibrant and versatile.”  The second extraordinary dish from Ortiz was Hennepin Saison Ale paired with rustic braised veal cheeks and a Hennepin wheat berry risotto. “I have always steered away from wine pairing events, I am certainly glad I did not pass on coming to Hop Chef. Beer events are inherently more fun and approachable.” said Ortiz.

“Great beer offers hundreds of flavors, aromas, colors, bodies, and levels of carbonation, making it delightful to pair with a huge range of foods – from the elegant to the everyday,’ said Brewery Ommegang President Simon Thorpe, in attendance to congratulate the winner. ‘And Ommegang beers are crafted with food pairing right at the forefront. We hold dearly to the belief that great beer truly does deserve great food.’

The Hop Chef Competition invites area chefs to imaginatively prepare and pair dishes with fine Ommegang ales. Co-sponsored by culinary bible Saveur it is a critical component of Ommegang’s Great Beer Deserves Great Food® initiative, a national program dedicated to the idea that great beer deserves its rightful place at the table with fine foods. The previous competition was in Washington DC on April 28th; next up is Philadelphia on July 10th.

The Chefs were tasked with making two dishes using one of five distinct pairing techniques: simple pairing, the direct interaction of taking a bite of food then sip of beer; incorporation, the beer used in the cooking process; mimicking, the flavor profile of the beer with the flavors in their dish; storytelling, beer like food has a great story behind it, not how it was made but why; or experimental, finding a way to make the beer the star of the dish, often the result of the other pairings.

Chef Cunniff, who served a lemongrass and ginger-braised Kurobuta pork belly, with Abbey Ale cider braising jus, parsnip puree, pineapple hoisin glaze, pickled cabbage, and tobacco onion stated, “Hop Chef is hugely raising awareness for fine beer and food.” Another crowd favorite was Chef Gulliano’s fig-macerated Three Philosophers ice cream, goji berry & chocolate crisp, Three Philosophers & palm sugar syrup, paired with Three Philosophers.

Ommegang will be hosting the third Hop Chef Competition, with innovative Philadelphia chefs imaginatively preparing and pairing dishes with fine Ommegang ales. Each chef creates two dishes to showcase their skills to bring Great Beer Deserves Great Food®  to exuberant life. The competition takes place at the World Café Live in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Purchase tickets online at Ommegang Hop Chef competitions donate a portion of the proceeds to Share our Strength, a charity dedicated to the proposition that no child will go hungry. Visit for more information.

Saveur Magazine covers both the art of cooking and the culture of food. Visit

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1 Response to Ommegang Hop Chef Competition – Albany Recap

  1. Pingback: OMMEGANG WITH A BANG! | COOKbook :: The Official Blog of COOK

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