Chef Wheeler del Torro will take on Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell in an Iron Chef-style battle. It all goes down March 16 at 7 p.m. (smack dab in the middle of Winter Music Conference) at the Shore Club. The event is part of chef del Torro's daylong business boot camp where he teaches budding entrepreneurs brand and marketing strategies.
Del Torro, also known as the "vegan Willie Wonka," began his love for food while growing up in Jamaica. He continued his culinary education in Paris before moving to the States and opening several cafés and catering companies. He is also a motivational speaker and conducts cooking throwdowns for fundraising and corporate events.
Del Torro has also written The Unauthorized Django Unchained Cookbook, an e-book with recipes based on the movie.The e-book is scheduled to be released the same day as the chef battle.
Chef Wheeler told Short Order that the battle between Luther Campbell and him will allow people to sample some healthful cuisine and see the other side of Luke. "We'll talk about his transition from entertainment to writing and what his motivation was to go from being written about to being a writer."
Asked whether Campbell is a good chef, Wheeler replied, "Everyone knows how to cook -- usually better than we realize." He said everyone was surprised with the culinary prowess of another musician, Biz Markie, at a similar event. "You could see the amazement on people's faces that Biz can actually cook. You have this perception of who they are, but there's usually more to people than what we know."
Wheeler has also invited another celebrity who happens to be in town during the event. "We sent an invitation to Lady Gaga. Sometimes you really never know who shows up to our events. Hopefully she'll come out. We've had events where we've gotten some big A-listers to appear. Everyone loves food, and everyone loves interacting with people."
Asked if at the end of the day he thinks he can beat Uncle Luke in the chef battle, Wheeler said, "Absolutely! I can beat any chef in the country. I'm willing to battle and challenge any chef. During our battle, I might do some Asian/Southern fusion food. But we'll keep it easy. Luke's a dad, and I'm sure he's had to cook at some point. Let's give him some credit."
As for the awesome Unofficial Django Unchained Cookbook?
Wheeler said he received a copy of the script and wanted to get people to try Southern soul food who might not have tried before. "A friend of mine was doing research on the book. We have a bomb cake because there are a lot of explosions, and we're doing recipes for some food you might find on a plantation."
Tickets for the chef battle cost $75 and are available through Eventbrite. For more information about downloading the book, visit wheelerdeltorro.com. In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for Angry Yard Bird Salad:
Angry Yard Bird Salad
2 cups faux chicken, shredded
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
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3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
Cayenne to suit to taste
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine chicken, jalapeño, onion, red pepper, and scallions. In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, mustard, mayonnaise, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while constantly stirring with a fork. Pour dressing over chicken mixture in large bowl and toss to combine. Serve over mixed greens or as sliders.