Edgecliff’s Stewart chosen as Platinum Chef

Gold — it is a standard to which many people strive. But for Gordon Stewart Jr., the standard wasn’t high enough, so he raised the culinary bar.

Stewart, the co-owner and executive chef of the Edgecliff Bar and Grill in Langley since 2002, is platinum.

The South Whidbey chef met the standard in October when he was one of four chefs invited to participate in Platinum Chef 2004, sponsored by and held at Bangor Naval Base in Bremerton.

Each was tasked with preparing an appetizer 100 guests would judge. The winner would receive a trophy that was actually a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture — as delicate as the layers of ingredients, flavor and texture used by the chefs.

Stewart scored as the top chef in the competition by winning over 89 out of 100 guests with his preparation of a polenta bruschetta topped with herbed goat cheese and wild mushrooms, basil and prosciutto wrapped tiger prawn and a roasted red pepper cream.

“The creativity in the different ingredients and the combination of flavors he uses are amazing,” said Anneliese Petrie, Edgecliff co-owner and manager. “If you taste the whole thing — it’s just wonderful.”

The other chefs prepared appetizers with ingredients such as filet mignon char-broiled with truffle butter. But while mouth-watering, the other recipes didn’t meet the platinum standard.

“There’s a challenge in competing and it’s always nice recognition,” Petrie said. “He was simply able to showcase some of the many different flavors that he prepares in our restaurant every night. He’s an extremely creative chef.”

Stewart said he considers his specialty to be vegetarian dishes, and his use of mushrooms and seafood.

While this is Stewart’s first major cooking competition, he and the plates he presents each night at the Edgecliff frequently receive nods of approval in Seattle and Northwest publications.

Stewart will return to the Platinum Chef crowd in April to cook a full-course meal. It will be the end of his reign as Platinum chef 2004 and he will have to relinquish the Chihuly trophy, but don’t expect his standard of excellence to drop. For the 18 years Stewart has been in the culinary field, he has been golden.

Stewart has said he found his passion for food at age 12 while dining with friends in Vancouver. He began studying the culinary arts while still in high school. He went on to study at Everett Community College and South Seattle Community College. He has been an apprentice for chefs such as Alfredo Ganacias, Thomas Clay, Paul Clymer, Jim Douglas, Vidal Bitton and Chuck Mallow. He has cooked in cities such as Mazatlan, New Orleans, Seattle and Langley and kitchens such as the Bistro in Arlington, the Amichi Bistro in Mukilteo and Dick and Jenny’s in New Orleans.

Not one to stop challenging himself in the kitchen, Stewart is waiting to hear back from the Food Network about their contest search for a new TV host chef.

He feels confident of the materials sent to the network and was able to complete the required three dishes on three minutes of tape.

“We have a great concept and have really put together a show unique in nature,” he said.

Next month he, along with South Whidbey, will find out if chef Gordon Stewart Jr., will be on the Food Network menu for a six episode stint.

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