Michael Cimarusti threw down the gauntlet. I picked it up. It smelled kind of fishy. But the battle is on, and you can come watch it at the Taste next weekend.
The other day on Twitter, the chef at Providence – Los Angeles' best restaurant two years running, according to Jonathan Gold, and one of the best seafood restaurants in the country – challenged me to a cooking contest.
In a conversation about possibly reprising our beard contest at last year's Taste (it's a long story, you can watch Average Betty's video here), Cimarusti, normally a pretty laid-back guy, bragged, "I'd rather challenge @Russ_Parsons1 to a #sardineoff. You're going down one way or the other! Consider yourself called out sir."
"It's on like Donkey Kong," I tweeted back (it was the best I could come up with on the spot).
And so now, Cimarusti and I are going head-to-head, mano-a-mano, fin-to-fin in what we've decided to bill as the great Fish Fight of 2014. At the end of Sunday night's Flavors of LA, the last event of this year's Taste, we'll each cook one fresh sardine dish to be judged by some honest, impartial soul we're still searching for (look up Diogenes).
And before you start wondering just how delusional I can possibly be: Yes, I realize that Cimarusti is one of the best fish cooks in the country and that I have absolutely no chance of winning. I figure that the best I can do is not slice off a finger when I'm up on stage.
I'll count that as a moral victory. And win or lose, I'll get to eat sardines.