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Diamond Chef Arkansas Makin’ The Cut preliminary competition finalists

Diamond Chef guarantees heated competition April 19

March 12, 2018
In what’s being billed as “The Game of Flames,” Diamond Chef Arkansas returns for its 11th annual event on Thursday, April 19 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Seven local and talented chefs will fire up the competition as they vie for the title of Diamond Chef Arkansas 2018 at UA - Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute (CAHMI).

Last year’s winner, Mary Beth “The Queen of Cuisine” Ringgold of Cajun’s Wharf, Capers and Copper Grill, was the first female winner of the decade-long event and she will return to defend her title against six other competitors this year. Those chefs include:

  • Brandon “The Menace of Spinach” Douglas - Green Leaf Grill
  • Casey “The Rebel Without a Sauce” Copeland - The Avenue, Hot Springs
  • Coby “The Shaman of Raman” Smith - Arkansas Heart Hospital
  • Jamie “The Commander in Chef” McAfee - Pine Bluff Country Club
  • Jordan “Iron Chef” Davis - Chenal Country Club
  • Joseph “Joey the Butcher” Salgueiro - Pleasant Valley Country Club

Diamond Chef Arkansas is modeled after the popular Food Network shows, Iron Chef America and Chopped. The mystery ingredient - to be revealed at the start of each round - must be prominently presented in the courses prepared by each chef. Competing chefs will have a fully-stocked pantry and may bring two sous chefs to assist them in the preparation. Judges will grade chefs on creativity, taste, and preparation.

Guests will not only enjoy the fast-paced culinary head-to-head competition, they can participate in activities throughout the state-of-the-art culinary facility. The “Culinary Creations Stations,” offer fine foods from French and Southern-themed cuisines to delectable confectionaries all prepared by the faculty and students of CAHMI. Specialty signature cocktails and fine wines are also available throughout the event as well, sponsored by the Roxor Gin distillery of Dallas Texas and Presqu’ile Vinyards of Santa Maria County, California.

New to the event this year will be the “Sugar Rush Room” hosted by UA-PTC’s Community Education series and will feature sugar cookie-making by Chocla Lea and fine chocolate creations by Cocoa Belle Chocolates. Participants will be able to get hands-on in this room and learn from some of the best culinarian instructors around, not to mention consuming all the samples.

Another opportunity offered at Diamond Chef this year includes “Namaste and Beer.” Short sessions will be held for anyone who’d like to participate in the “yoga with a twist” taught by Valerie Talburt, a yoga instructor trained in Yoga Medicine.

The ever-popular live and silent auctions will feature only culinary and hospitality items that are guaranteed to delight any food lovers. One of the main live auction items this year will be a Bellagio Casino Vegas Package including a suite and special chef’s tables at their world-famous restaurants.

This year’s co-chairs are father and son team, Frank Cox, Jr. and Frank Holmes Cox III. Both are self-proclaimed serious foodies and are both huge supporters of education. Frank Holmes Cox III is co-owner of Leo’s Greek Castle, a local favorite in Central Arkansas and COO of the CMW Agency in Little Rock, an online marketing company. Frank Cox, Jr. is CEO of the CMW Agency and former EVP and Chief Communications Officer for Hendrix College. According to the elder Cox, “Learning more about some of Arkansas’ greatest chefs has been wonderful – I’ve sampled some of their signature dishes and I can tell you that the attendees of this year’s Diamond Chef Arkansas will be blown away by the superb quality of our competitors’ creations!”

This year’s event is being presented by Arkansas Beef Council. Other sponsors include Ben E. Ketih Foods, Sysco Arkansas, Hiland Dairy, Mangan Holcomb Partner/Team SI, Mark Fonville Photographic, Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits, LRCVB, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, B 98.5 and KARN Radio and KATV.

Tickets are $150/person, and proceeds benefit UA-PTC students and programs. For tickets or more information, visit or call Adora Curry at 501.812-2771 or email [email protected]

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