Mike Dashe and Matt Cline prepare for Iron Chefs

ZAP’s Iron Chefs: Mike Dashe and Matt Cline

Did you know that Mike Dashe, co-owner and winemaker of Dashe Cellars, went to enology school at UC Davis with Matt Cline, co-owner and winemaker of Three Wine Company? Years ago, Mike was on a Bay cruise with Matt and Erin Cline (Matt’s wife), hosted by a foil and cork company, where he met his wife. Erin, who is co-owner of Three Wine Company with Matt, has served on the ZAP Board since 2001 and was a founding co-chair of ZAP’s annual Zinfandel Festival Winemakers’ Dinner and Auction , shared this little tidbit with me during Iron Chefs Zin, where Mike and Matt recently got together to compete for bragging rights.

Iron Chefs Zin was Erin’s brainchild—an auction lot co-produced for the last three years with the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies at the City College of San Francisco. The lot is sold twice, to two winning bidders during ZAP’s Winemakers Dinner live auction.  As Erin explains it:  “Iron Chefs Zin is based on the Food Network’s Iron Chefs show, where teams compete using a secret ingredient. We wanted to actively involve the winning bidders, so they get ‘hands on’, preparing the dishes under the guidance of the chefs and working ‘on the clock’. Naturally, there’s a lot of great Zinfandel that’s paired with the dishes and each team tastes both team’s menu and wines,” she adds.

Mike Dashe, and his winning auction team paired with Chef Yang Peng of Wood Tavern.

Mike Dashe and his Red Team

Mike Dashe and his Red Team

Chef Peng

Chef Peng

Matt and his winning auction team paired with Chef Louis LeGassic of BayWolf.

Matt Cline and the auction-winning Black Team

Chef Legassic

Chef Legassic

Kitchen Stadium, or in this case, the kitchen at the culinary department was filled with excitement as the two teams battled it out, creating a dazzling and delicious array of dishes with the secret ingredients, pork belly, kale and peaches.  With each course presented, the flavor combinations produced a superb compliment and contrast to the wines. Both menus were inspired.  Selecting a winner was the ultimate challenge for the judges.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out how what our competing teams prepared and learn how the judges made the difficult decision of picking a winner.