Chef Melissa Fordham is the best addition to Gourmet Again in a long time, said General Manager Andy Hoffman.
"Her cooking is just so out of the box," Hoffman said. "Its given an innovative approach to food that we never used to have."
While the dishes are the same—and even look the same—that Gourmet Again has been making for the past 30 years, Fordham does special preparations to her dishes that makes them delicious, he added.
For example, the meatloaf is not just the same old recipe, instead Fordham makes it modern by adding veal, and special seasonings, he said, boasting about the enticing, prepared dishes set up in deli case, from fried chicken to brisket, broccoli salad to heavenly hash.
"Her cooking is just so far out of the box," Hoffman said.
On Friday at Gourmet Again, Fordham is presenting a special, veal dish as practice for the Monday semi-finals competition of the Mason Dixon Master Chef competition
And Fordham has competed her way into the top four chefs so far.
Until the competition Monday, Gourmet Again customers can try her veal medallions with wild mushrooms and asparagus in a demi glace, at about $27.99 per pound. It's a dish Hoffman recommends serving with mashed potatoes, also available at the deli.
Fordham was former chef at The Harryman House many years ago, according to a news release from the tournament.
So far in the compeition, she has been victorious over the current Chef of Harryman House, Jeff Keeney, who was her coworker there.
On Monday, she faces Chef Patrick "Opie" Crooks of Roy's Restaurant Baltimore, during the 6 p.m. semi-finals.
She and Crooks will create a veal dish with Roland exotic products include: wild mushroom blend jarred in water, roasted yellow tomatoes in oil, Chardonnay wine jelly jars, and roasted red piquillo peppers from Peru, according to a competition news release.
Also vying for a finals berth, but competing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, will be Chef Chris Lewis of Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia, and Chef R.L. Boyd of Mie N Yu, Georgetown.
During semi-finals, chefs will work to create:
- A first course featuring veal butt tender and two of the four exotic products
- A second course featuring veal hanging tender the two remaining products
- Dessert, with no ingredient requirements
"Chefs are scored on creativity for all three courses, and we have seen protein used in dessert throughout the competition," the release states.
Semi-finals winners will cook off in the finals Sept. 11.
The competition is open to the public.
Tickets for the remaining events are $35 for general admission, and $55 for the judging experience during which ticketholders taste the chefs' creations, the release states. Each ticketholder gets admission to the competition, free appetizers, wine tastings and drink specials during happy hour.
For more information on Gourmet Again, it soups, gourmet salad bar, deli, bakery goods, catering and cafe, call 410-484-9353.
Gourmet Again is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.