Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Off challenge

An appetizer sits on display as judges sample the first round of a three-course food challenge at the new Twin Bridges Restaurant at the Wyandotte Nation Casino. The restaurant is slated to open soon and will feature a revamped menu as well as a new interior design. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

An appetizer sits on display as judges sample the first round of a three-course food challenge at the new Twin Bridges Restaurant at the Wyandotte Nation Casino. The restaurant is slated to open soon and will feature a revamped menu as well as a new interior design. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

With the re-opening of the Wyandotte Nation Casino’s Twin Bridges Restaurant quickly approaching, the kitchen was put to the test in a cook off recently to find signature dishes.

In a challenge similar to popular TV chef shows, the restaurant’s culinary staff was tasked to create three courses, including an appetizer, signature entrée and dessert.

Gary Johnson, the Wyandotte Nation Casino General Manager, said the Twin Bridges Restaurant first Cook Off was a huge success. He said some of the top dishes may be featured as specials when the restaurant opens soon.

“With the new restaurant, we wanted to test the skills of the kitchen because we’ve always enjoyed the reputation of being a great place to eat. Each cook was on their own to do whatever they wanted to do,” Johnson said.

Wyandotte Nation Casino General Manager Gary Johnson, left, and Wyandotte Nation Casino Facilities Director David Baughn sample one of the signature entrees during the Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Off. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

Wyandotte Nation Casino General Manager Gary Johnson, left, and Wyandotte Nation Casino Facilities Director David Baughn sample one of the signature entrees during the Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Off. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

A panel of six judged the competition. The four competitors were graded on taste, appeal and uniqueness. Each dish was put on display and samples were given to the judges, which were made up of staff from the casino and the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, the Wyandotte Nation’s federally-chartered corporation.

“The flavors were magnificent, the presentation was terrific and we couldn’t be prouder of our kitchen staff. They do a fantastic job,” Johnson said.

The winning dishes for each course were presented a framed certificate and trophy.

Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Ashley Critser puts the final touches on her winning dessert dish, a Vanilla Bean Flan with Macerated Blackberries and Candied Lemon. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Ashley Critser puts the final touches on her winning dessert dish, a Vanilla Bean Flan with Macerated Blackberries and Candied Lemon. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

The appetizers included a chutney dish, scallop dish and two shrimp dishes. Ryan Schuster’s Firecracker Shrimp won over the judges’ palettes.

For the signature entrees, the competitors created a grilled smoked pork chop, crab stuffed chicken breast, goat cheese stuffed chicken breast and chicken kabobs. Executive Chef Chris Cizek’s Crab Stuffed Blackened Chicken Breast was the popular choice among the judges.

The dessert portion wrapped up the competition, as the staff prepared an angel food cake, bananas foster, a cream cheese cake and the overwhelming judge’s favorite – Ashley Critser’s Vanilla Bean Flan with Macerated Blackberries and Candied Lemon.

“I’ve always known we had a great culinary team, but they even exceeded my expectations during this competition. I’d put our team up against any team anywhere,” Johnson said. “They are dedicated and love what they are doing.”

Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Ryan Schuster works on his Bananas Foster dessert during the cook off. Schuster had the top dish during the appetizer portion of the competition with his Firecracker Shrimp. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

Twin Bridges Restaurant Cook Ryan Schuster works on his Bananas Foster dessert during the cook off. Schuster had the top dish during the appetizer portion of the competition with his Firecracker Shrimp. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

The restaurant is part of the casino’s $7 million expansion and renovation project. The interior redesign will give the casino a very modern and contemporary look, and the expansion project will create space for such features as a bowling alley, billiards/darts area, new floor layout and expanded gaming area, party rooms, a Club and a multipurpose area for entertainment, banquets, VIP events and private parties.

As part of the project, the Twin Bridges Restaurant received a new contemporary look while maintaining a comfortable, relaxed feel, doubled in size and now includes a martini bar, private dining room and an exciting new menu, with everyone’s favorites plus an array of new items.

“The team has worked hard putting this project together and I think our guests are going to love it,” Johnson said.

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