Diligence, Hell’s Kitchen chefs face off for culinary bragging rights

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Chefs aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence came out victors in a recent friendly cooking competition with downtown eatery Hell's Kitchen. Photo courtesy John Benedict.
Chefs aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence came out victors in a recent friendly cooking competition with downtown eatery Hell’s Kitchen. Photo courtesy John Benedict.

Some area chefs faced off–and on the water, no less–during a friendly competition last week.

Making good on a recent challenge made by Hell’s Kitchen owner Eric Claut, the restaurant’s culinary team went up against the cooks aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence on April 16.

According to a release from the U.S. Coast Guard, Laut told Diligence’s captain, Commander Jeff Randall, that the chefs at Hell’s Kitchen could top the galley staff of the ship.

“The only solution to this challenge is a cook-off to settle this question once and for all and establish supreme bragging rights,” Ensign John Benedict, stationed on the Diligence, said.

To help solve the dispute, Wilmington City Council members and Mayor Bill Saffo are being called in to serve as judges, along with Randall and Laut.

Tasked with preparing a unique main course and two side dishes, the cooks were given a pre-selected ingredient list from which to prepare their culinary entries.

After a hard-fought battle, Diligence was declared the winner by only two points, Benedict said.

“Both meals were delicious and well prepared, and everyone had a good time,” he noted.

Additionally, guests invited by Hell’s Kitchen and Diligence were given an opportunity to sample the dishes and cast their own unofficial votes. Diligence, again, came up the winner by the “narrowest of margins,” Benedict said.

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is a 210 foot medium endurance cutter that ports in Wilmington. With a crew of approximately 80, Diligence’s primary missions consist of counter drug and migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue operations.

The 50-year-old vessel and the 26 other U.S. Coast Guard medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The new Offshore Patrol Cutter will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests.