clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

In No-Brainer Move, Plaza Del Toro Brings a Reality Cooking Show to... Reality.

See Portland chefs battle it out before your very eyes, without commercial breaks.

Chefs Anthony Cafiero and Carlo Lamagna competing at Versus
Chefs Anthony Cafiero and Carlo Lamagna competing at Versus
Chris Ryan

Cutthroat Kitchen, Top Chef, Chopped, Iron Chef, Beat Bobby Flay—cooking shows are out of control. They sometimes turn chefs into celebrities, and a new show and chef seem to pop up every day. With Versus at Plaza Del Toro, have Renee and John Gorham found a way to make reality cooking competitions even better by bringing them to real life?

Taking place monthly at Plaza Del Toro at 105 SE Taylor St., Versus sees two Portland chefs do culinary battle. There are three courses, each starring one ingredient, and diners get to vote on which chef has the most success with each ingredient. A recent Versus pitted Anthony Cafiero (formerly of Ración) against Carlo Lamagna (Clyde Common) and featured cucumber, corn, and basil. Cafiero walked away a winner with a nice hat (below), and Lamagna received a conciliatory half-drunk bottle of Fernet-Branca (also below).

Versus

[Photo by Chris Ryan]

The event's setup is pretty straightforward. Diners arrive and take a seat at long communal tables. The chefs cook behind the scenes, but they mingle and answer questions throughout the night. Diners are provided with scoring cards and, after each course, vote for their favorite dish. At the end, John Gorham tallies the votes and announces a winner.

Versus is held at Plaza Del Toro on the fourth Friday of the month, and tickets go on sale two weeks in advance. The next Versus, on September 25, features chefs from the Gorham empire, Kasey Mills of Mediterranean Exploration Company and Josh Schimmel-Bristow of Tasty n Alder.

Every Versus has sold out. Past competitions have featured Beau Carr (RingSide) vs Gabe Rosen (Biwa), with strawberries, octopus, and lamb; BJ Smith (Smokehouse Tavern) vs Ryan Fox (Nomad), with salmon, apricots, and rabbit; and Melissa Meyer and Maylin Chavez (Olympia Oyster Bar) vs Andrew Gregory (The Woodsman Tavern), with green beans, peaches, and tomato. Rosen, Fox, and Gregory took the wins.

Versus

[Photo by Chris Ryan]

Versus

[Photo by Chris Ryan]

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Portland newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world