Chefs Travis Wright, left, and Brook Lamar



Chefs Travis Wright and Brook Lamar capture the Viking Chef Competition title at the Coastal Style Luxury Living Show

Written By: | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

At the Coastal Style Luxury Living Show in October, four amazing restaurants battled head-to-head in the Viking Chef Competition to showcase their culinary talents while throngs of curious show patrons looked on.

Armed only with a list of required ingredients, a Viking-equipped kitchen and their cooking prowess, each was put to the ultimate test of teamwork and talent. The 2009 winner was The Shark on the Harbor in West Ocean City, represented by Executive Chef Travis Wright and Chef Brook Lamar.

Battling against other gifted teams is no easy task. The Shark narrowly defeated last year’s champion, Restaurant Nage from Rehoboth Beach, in Friday’s preliminary round. Chefs Kevin Reading and Hari Cameron had aimed to defend their title with exquisitely prepared dishes.

Wright and Lamar’s competitor in the final round was Martin Seafood Company, located across from The Shark along the Commercial Fishing Harbor. John and Charles Martin performed incredibly well in the preliminary round and out-dueled The Palette Restaurant of Snow Hill in a close match to reach the Sunday finals.

With limited experience in the competition arena, Wright appropriately designated Lamar, the former Executive Chef of The Globe in Berlin, to be the team’s leader. Leadership and drive are attributes that Lamar, a rural Western Pennsylvania native, has developed during his culinary career. He has been working in restaurants since the age of 15 and possesses what he thoughtfully describes as “a bit of a gypsy spirit.”

It was this characteristic that led Lamar to plunge headfirst into regional cuisines, local cultures and a variety of cooking techniques. After working in Pennsylvania and Colorado, where he won a Gold Medal in an American Chef Federation competition, he came to Maryland to work at OC Wasabi with owner/chef Ken Dui. It was then that he began making sushi, which he has since brought to the Shark, and which has fueled his fascination with Asian ingredients and cuisine. Among the dishes that Wright and Lamar prepared for the judges were potato gnocchi, eggplant roulade stuffed with eel, and Boston beer and cheese soup with a pretzel garnish.

The competition was close, but luck and ability were simply on their side in the end. Wright said, “You know going into it that something isn't going to go like you planned it. As long as you know that and embrace it, you're fine.” Lamar, a competitive fighter in his spare time, likened the competitive culinary contest world to the fighting world.

“Meticulous preparation and attention to detail will be your greatest allies at the moment of truth.”
The Shark on the Harbor


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