King of the Mountain Chef’s Challenge 2012 and Fennel Pollen Sautéed Trout Fillet on Parsnip and Apple Puree

Round two was a match between defending champion Chef Klapdohr and Chef Kowal.  This time the mystery basket included a little trip to the tropics with Prawns, coconut, mangos and bananas.  Once again, the battle was intense as the chefs raced to prepare three dishes from the secret ingredients.  Chef Klapdohr emerged as the winner and headed to the finals against Chef Ward.

Chef Johannes Klapdohr is battling to retain his title of King of the Mountain

Chef Johannes Klapdohr won his first battle to advance to the final round

Chef Mat Kowal battling the clock

Chef Kowal took the judges on a trip to the islands with his dishes combing Prawns, coconuts, mangoes and bananas

The plating of the dishes was stunning

Trout, radicchio and carrots were the three mystery ingredients in the battle between Chefs Klapdohr and Ward.  This was the third and final challenge.  Once again, these chefs had 40 grueling minutes to prepare and plate their three presentations for the judges.  In a tough decision for the judges, Chef Klapdohr emerged as the victor to retain his crown and the title of “King of the Mountain”.  However, the real winner was the Fragile Kids Foundation that will benefit from the generosity of the chefs and patrons of this event.

Completing three dishes in 40 minutes was challenging

The judges had some difficult decisions to make

There was much wine, bourbon and deliberating at the Judge’s Table

Matt Ebertz had this to say about the event, “If you want to know if the event was successful, simply ask the guests and the participants.  In our case, the guests loved the excitement of watching great chefs battle at a real Chef’s Challenge, and the food they prepared was amazing.  As for the competing chefs, every chef who has participated, judged or observed the competition says the same two things; first, this is a real chef’s competition that requires experience and talent, not luck and assistance. Second, they want to win it. “

Chef Johannes Klapdohr is congratulated as the winner to retain the title of “King of the Mountain”

If you have the opportunity to see an event like this, you will truly understand the intensity and level of talent and creativity that it takes to create and beautifully plate three unique dishes from three mystery ingredients and do it all in just forty minutes.  It gives me an even greater appreciation for the work these chefs do on a daily basis in their own restaurants and kitchens.

If you would like to learn more about The Fragile Kids Foundation,  you can visit their website at

Chef Klapdohr has shared his recipe for one of his winning dishes, Fennel Pollen Sautéed Trout Fillet on Parsnip and Apple Puree.  This stunning dish will ensure that you are a superstar chef in your own home.

Fennel Pollen Sautéed Trout Fillet on Parsnip and Apple Puree

Bon Appétit!

Fennel Pollen Sautéed Trout Fillet on Parsnip and Apple Puree


4 Trout fillets (skin-off and de-boned)
½ teaspoon Fennel Pollen (can be replaced with ground fennel seeds)
1 tablespoon Butter
¼ cup White wine
1 Shallot (peeled and cut in small dices)
Fresh herbs: finely cut Chives, Parsley and Dill in equal amounts to make 1/8 cup
Salt and pepper

Parsnip and Apple Puree
2 Parsnips (peeled and cut in ½ inch dices) *It should not yield more then 2 cups.
2 Apples (peeled and cut in ½ inch dices)
1 Shallot (peeled and cut in small dices)
1 tablespoon Butter
2 cups Chicken Stock (Swanson or similar product)
½ cup Heavy Cream
Salt and pepper


Parsnip and Apple Puree
Start with making the parsnip and apple puree because it takes the longest to prepare.

1. Heat a medium pot to medium heat and melt the butter. Add shallots and stir until translucent. Add the parsnips and apples and sauté both ingredients for 2 minutes without color. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock so that all ingredients are covered with liquid and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer the ingredients for about 20 minutes or until soft.

2. Add the cream and bring to boil again. In a mixer, blend all ingredients until a smooth puree consistency is achieved. Taste and season again with salt and pepper.

1. Season the trout on both sides evenly with salt, pepper and fennel pollen.

2. Bring the butter to medium heat in a large pan until it browns. Carefully place the trout in to the pan with the side that had the skin on up. (It is important that the trout fillet is dry or use a non-stick pan so the trout does not stick.) Sear the trout for about 1 minute and turn. Sear for one more minute, add shallots and turn to low heat. (The cooking time could change depending how thick the fillet is. Ideally the trout is prepared to medium.)

3. Add a splash of white wine to the pan and sprinkle the fresh herbs over the trout, set aside

With a table spoon spread puree in the middle of a 10 inch plate. Take the trout out of the pan and place on top of the puree with a spoon nape the pan juice over the trout and serve. Garnish with fresh sprigs of herbs.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Johannes Klapdohr
Madison’s and Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Highlands, North Carolina


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