Oakdale High graduate and resident Bryan Ehrenholm took home the distinction of Culinary Clash King on Thursday, March 25 after competing against three top-notch kitchen competitors in an Iron Chef-style contest sponsored by the DMC Foundation for the prize.
Six chefs were selected for the first round and voters were asked to narrow the list down to three. Of those John Mangelos, Jesse Layman, and Ehrenholm were selected to actually battle it out in the kitchen.
Layman, the executive chef at Galletto Ristorante in Modesto, and Mangelos, owner and executive chef at The Barnwood Restaurant and Catering in Ripon put up a hard fight but Ehrenholm, owner and executive chef of The Lunch Pail and Pure Joy Bakery proved he had the right stuff needed to please the picky palates of the judges.
“To win is a real honor, we always strive to have the best food and pies possible in our restaurant and bakery and winning just lets us know that others feel the same way we do,” Ehrenholm shared. “What I enjoyed the most was knowing that we were helping raise money for a great cause, Doctors Medical Foundation uses the money raised to fund their Alzheimer day care facility so family members that are forced to care for their loved ones at home have a place to take them for the day so they can have a day off.”
The competitors were given a full pantry of food and 15 minutes before the start of the competition were told the secret ingredient, which happened to be lemon grass. They had 15 minutes to come up with a menu and then an hour to prepare their dishes.
When asked if he would do it again, Ehrenholm offered an enthusiastic, “Diffidently, a competition like this really tests your knowledge, skills and your imagination.”
Ehrenholm attended Columbia College Culinary Arts Program and holds a business degree from University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. He has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 17 and has always loved cooking. He served as the Director of Food and Beverage for William-Sonoma retail stores and a Director of Food and Beverage for Marriott Hotels before returning to the area. For five years he leased the Bloomingcamp Ranch in Oakdale and then moved his bakery and combined it with his restaurant The Lunch Pail in Modesto. Pure Joy Bakery and The Lunch Pail have been in business in Modesto for seven years and in the last four years 12 of his pies have been named Best in America by the National Pie Council at their Great American Pie Bake Off in Florida. In addition, Ehrenholm’s creations were featured on the Food Network’s Challenge Show in September of 2009.