by Max Brantley
They had a little celebrity chef contest at the Peabody Hotel this week as a fund-raiser for Pulaski Tech's Arkansas Culinary School. Donnie Ferneau, of the namesake restaurant, bested the Peabody's executive chef, Andre Poirot.
Pictured is some of Ferneau's work -- camembert wrapped in puff pastry with a strawberry and jalapeno compote along with a salad of bibb lettuce and toasted walnuts on the right and, on the left, pan-fried soft-shell crab on a bed of braised mushrooms and celery with hollandaise.
Soft-shell crab was the surprise ingredient for the chefs to conquer. From the news release:
Ferneau presented pan-fried soft-shell crab atop a bed of braised mushroom and celery with hollandaise sauce. His salad featured Bibb lettuce with toasted walnuts and vinaigrette. Other creations included camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry with a strawberry and jalapeno compote, and a rack of lamb atop bed of shrimp with a béarnaise sauce and chives.
Chef Poirot created culinary sensations representatives of three continents, including an opening course of strawberry gazpacho with fried, pistachio-encrusted camembert. An Asian-inspired creation included lamb-filled wontons and lamb tartar. For an American touch, he created lamb burger with French fries and homemade ketchup, followed up with a French twist on a chocolate and hazelnut dessert.