Day 2 of the Shore Lodge Culinary Festival was bigger, better and more exciting than ever before. Waking up this morning, there was an energy throughout the resort. Chefs sharpening their knives and strategizing every detail of the day; hotel guests and McCall locals filling the Pavilion with high spirits and even higher anticipation; today was a big day. The second annual Culinary King of the Mountain competition was on.

This year’s talent has been incomparable, and we’re not just talking about the guys from the restaurants. Each of the celebrity chefs were armed with a team of sous chefs that came ready to throw down, two of which were part of last year’s winning team and three of which even donned American flag bandannas. These folks meant business. The four teams competed in three, 30 minute elimination rounds where they had to prepare an appetizer, entrée and a dessert before the winning team was crowned. Leading into each course, the teams had no knowledge of the ingredients until the clock started ticking and our expert emcee Chef Alan Turner of AgriBeef Co. announced their fate.

The pressure was high and the creativity had to be even higher. Here’s how it all went down: The first mystery basket for the appetizer course included: black garlic, togarashi, baby heirloom tomatoes and Snake River Farms American Kobe beef. The teams prepared four gorgeous plates:

Our expert judges, who had the best job of the day, included: Guy Hand from Edible Idaho, Justin Ennis of Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Rex Chandler of Chandlers steakhouse. The panel decided the round was simply too close to call and allowed all four to continue to round two. But there was a twist! Two teams would be eliminated next. The ingredients for the entrée round included: pomegranate, Marcona almonds, romanesco and sturgeon.

After much debate, Chefs Wermerskirchen and Topple were sent packing. It was down to newcomer Chef Chris Kastner and event vet Chef Wiley Earl. The final basket included: mascarpone cheese, red currants, croissant dough and bacon.

The verdict was a difficult one, but in the end, our new Culinary King of the Mountain is Chef Wiley Earl from Alavita and Fork restaurants in Boise. Chef Earl has his team, the Kuzio family, to thank for their help, hustle and not to mention the headwear.


And that was the first of four events. The jam-packed day also included  a Farmer’s Market during the competition where local purveyors showcased mouthwatering wares including cheese, jam, wine, coffee, fresh flowers and culinary gadgets.

Following the Farmer’s Market, guests sat down to a wine education course with Scott Sprague, an acclaimed wine specialist with Idaho Wine Merchant. Scott led a blind tasting where he shared the intricacies of Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignons from regions Australia to Washington and beyond.

To round out the night, the chefs put the competition aside to create a spectacular four course collaborative wine dinner featuring Joseph Phelps. Each chef spearheaded a course to be paired with varietals from the award-winning St. Helena winery. From Chef Earl’s Hamachi down to Chef Wermerskirchen’s crepe, it was a meal, and truly a day, to remember.

Now, only one thing remains: brunch! Tomorrow, guests are welcome to a lavish brunch at the Lake Grill beginning at 9 a.m. Sip on champagne cocktails, getting omelet making tips, and swap stories from the weekend among old friends and new.