Grand Marlin chef Edward Lordman spent the summer casting a spotlight on Pensacola’s culinary scene through his appearance on the Food Network summer series “Beachside Brawl.”
Over six weeks of competition, Lordman chopped, baked and pureed his way into the final round of an East vs. West cooking competition that brought together top chefs from across the country to vie for the title “Best of the Beach” and a $25,000 vacation.
In the final episode of the show Sunday, Lordman beat out another Florida chef to win the title “Best of the East Coast” but suffered a narrow defeat in a final showdown with the West’s best chef.
Still, Lordman said he was “at peace” with the result, proud of his performance and confident he had come home a better chef.
East Coast, Beast Coast
In the first challenge, each coast’s team needed to use two ingredients from an iconic tropical beverage and incorporate them into a savory dish.
Lordman and Tampa chef Jada Vidal were tasked to play off the piña colada, using coconut cream and pineapple.
Lordman presented the judges with a coconut pineapple broth with charred corn and pineapple slaw, topped with coconut fried shrimp.
Lordman selected for Food Network series:Pensacola chef Edward Lordman to compete on Food Network’s ‘Beachside Brawl’ this month
Missed the final episode?:Pensacola chef Ed Lordman makes it to Food Network’s ‘Beachside Brawl’ finale on July 24
Beachside Brawl host Antonia Lofaso noted how Lordman “mastered” the use of the two required ingredients and complimented the creaminess of the broth.
The shining praise from Lofaso and two guest judges were enough to advance Lordman to the final brawl. The victory crowned Lordman “Best of the East Coast” and allowed him to take on West Coast champion Kaleena Bliss for the last challenge.
The final faceoff
For the final challenge, chefs were tasked with creating a “destination dinner” in an hour featuring three courses: an appetizer, entrée and dessert.
Both competitors had to integrate two ingredients into all three courses: lemongrass and macadamia nuts.
Lordman decided to go with scallops with a macadamia nut puree, a chargrilled pork loin with macadamia nut chimichurri and a passion fruit and pineapple yogurt parfait.
“It’s impossible to talk about how much Ed has grown in the last six weeks,” chef Tiffani Faison, the East Coast team’s mentor and team captain, said on the show. “One of the great things about Ed is how soulful his cooking is, and I think he’s really learning to embrace that and let that be his strength.”
As time ran out and chefs threw up their hands with both pride and exasperation, all that was left to do was wait for the judges’ final decision.
“Really well done. Pork loin has a gorgeous char on the outside of it … a really spectacular meal in general,” Lofaso said.
Despite the positive feedback, Lordman ultimately took second place to Bliss.
Looking back on the show
In his 11 days spent lodged in Hermosa Beach, California, for filming, Lordman recalled how the long, 10-hour days on set pushed him to new heights both personally and professionally.
Although the picturesque b-roll shot in Redondo Beach gave the illusion that everything on the show was smooth sailing, what you did not see on camera is the yelling for a medic when someone sliced a finger in a speed round, or the dripping sweat from spending hours in the sun.
“Producers were like, ‘Are you OK? Your face is swelling up,'” Lordman said of some of the hotter filming days.
One thing that also was cut down during editing was the constant joking around between host Lofaso and team captains Faison and Brooke Williamson, most of which was cut during editing.
“You can tell that they hang out, they’re hilarious. They kind of lightened it up,” Lordman said.
He especially learned a lot from Faison, who served as his mentor for the East Coast team. She provided advice on everything from technical tips like balancing salt and acidity, to life advice, like cooking from the soul.
“She’s a beast in the kitchen, she’s a warrior,” Lordman said. “She puts a lot of heart and a lot of soul in the kitchen.”
Despite the intense pressure of cooking in sometimes two timed challenges a day, Lordman said felt he was competing more against himself than the other chefs.
“Mentally, it was taxing. Your heart’s racing already. ‘What’s the challenge going to be? Who’s going home?'” Lordman said. “There are a lot of things that could go really bad. All these things are going through your head.”
In the nights off when the group of professional chefs, comprised of both East and West coast competitors, would venture out into the California nightlife for food and drink, they checked out the restaurants of some of their mentors.
Lordman said two restaurants the group visited, Playa Provisions, owned by East Coast captain Brooke Williamson, and Otium, owned by guest judge Tim Hollingsworth, were some of the best he has been to in his life.
He said being surrounded by such creative culinary inspirations also propelled him to be a better chef coming home to Pensacola.
And after securing the runner-up position, said he was proud of himself just for having the courage to go and still execute a dish every round.
“That’s what separates the chefs: knowing how to pivot, thinking on the fly, still coming up with something even though it’s completely different,” Lordman said. “That’s talent.”
Stay tuned as Lordman plans to compete in more Food Network shows, and also one day open up a restaurant of his own in Pensacola.