Chef Charlie Loomis took a taste of southern brunch to New York and beat one of Food Network's most renowned chefs on Sunday night's episode of "Beat Bobby Flay."
Loomis, executive chef of Feed Table and Tavern, went pan-to-pan with Flay in making eggs Benedict. Even though Flay has a Food Network show called "Brunch @ Bobby's," Loomis didn't shy away from taking the pro on in a match for the best Eggs Benedict. In fact, when questioned by judge Giada De Laurentiis as to why he picked a dish Flay was known for, Loomis responded that he wanted to compete with "something in Bobby's wheelhouse."
Loomis said Monday morning that he didn't want to back into beating the man who has won more Iron Chef competitions than any other.
"If going up against the best, I didn't want it to be a fluke," he said. "A lot of people try to cook an ethnic dish or something he isn't familiar with, but I wanted to go right after him."
Also judging the first round was actress Betsy Brandt ("Breaking Bad," "Life in Pieces.")
Before he could take on Flay, Loomis first had to compete against Israel Rivera of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The two chefs were given the surprise ingredient of radishes by Flay and had to create their own dish featuring radishes.
Rivera prepared a radish salad with a pineapple-ginger pickled brine served with avocado and buttermilk dressing. Loomis served up a plate of roasted and raw radishes with creamy feta and radish top vinaigrette.
De Laurentiis said Loomis won the first round because "radishes were the star and not covered by lettuce."
Loomis said that first round was far more nerve-wracking than going head to head against Flay.
"They showed us the pantry and where everything was and then took us to our stations and said, 'You're secret ingredient is radishes. You have 20 minutes. Go.' And, it's a strict 20 minutes."
In the main heat with Flay, Loomis created a roasted green chile hollandaise sauce, used crispy country ham, shrimp toast and tomato jam in his dish. Watching Loomis cook, De Laurentiis complimented him, saying he "has some good technique."
"His game is strong," agreed Flay.
Loomis said almost of his dishes are inspired by things he loved as a child, and shrimp toast is high among those.
"I just hear the words and think I need to make that now."
He also said he was having a great time during the competition, cutting up with De Laurentiis and Brandt.
"I looked over at Bobby and he looked disheveled, bumping into stuff and knocking things over. Once he saw I was bringing it and my game is strong, he was worried. He saw my ingredients and started trying to create what I was, and once you start trying to re-create, it's different."
Ultimately, the tomato jam put Loomis' dish over the top when judged by an independent panel of three restaurant industry professionals in a blind taste test.
All three complimented it at some point during their critiques. Loomis beat Flay by a unanimous vote of the judges.
Loomis said he plans to offer the eggs Benedict on the menu at Feed.
"If I don't, people will come with pitchforks and torches."
He said he is not sure how the win will impact business, but after his appearance on "Cooks vs. Cons" in 2016, people drove to Chattanooga from all over the country to sample his cooking.
While he is talking with Food Network about a future appearance on one of their shows, his main focus now is re-dedicating himself to the menu at Feed.
"We have some fantastic local farms and I plan to reshape our focus to make sure we are doing what we started out to do. We will keep our core menu, but flex our culinary muscle."