Chef Jon Hosler and sous chef James Lewis hard at work in Kitchen Stadium at Bite of Bend. photo by Jodi Schneider
Chef Jon Hosler and sous chef James Lewis hard at work in Kitchen Stadium at Bite of Bend. photo by Jodi Schneider
Eight accomplished local chefs from Central Oregon competed to prove their culinary skills kicking off the Top Chef Competition at the Bite of Bend on Saturday with Chef Jon Hosler, owner of The Porch in Sisters, competing against Chef Chad Berg for Deschutes Brewery in round one.

The Porch has been a popular dinnerhouse in Sisters since 2012. It is a family affair. Hosler’s mother and partner Caryl Hosler is well-known in Sisters for her work at Jen’s Garden and Thyme. A few years back she won an Iron Chef competition with TR McCrystal, Sisters High School culinary arts instructor.

While Caryl was working as the sous chef under TR McCrystal at Jen’s Garden and Thyme, Jon was working the same trade in Southern California.

Chef Jon noted that he began his career in Los Angeles and has been cooking in the industry for 20 years, working his way up self-taught and dedicated to learning everything from some great mentors which led him into jobs such as sous chef at Red Car Brewery for a number of years then on to sous chef at Petros, a Greek and Mediterranean fine dining restaurant. Later in his career he focused on consulting for a restaurant development company as well as TV and movie craft service catering.

Family and friends brought him to Central Oregon with an opportunity to open his first restaurant, The Porch, seven years ago.

“I’ve had great training,” he said. “My passion is to create food, and it’s been great fun being chef at The Porch, sharing a relationship with my mother on a professional level.”

The Porch occupies a late-1940s-style building on Elm Street. An eclectic menu of international gourmet comfort food is served in a serene atmosphere reminiscent of a private home.

He added, “It’s a fun restaurant that provides a comfortable home-like setting to enjoy some new and playful ideas on comfort classics globally, including American.”

Over the years the Hoslers and their culinary team have used their global comfort theme to bring diners comfort classics from all styles of cooking with a modern twist.

The competition took place right in the middle of downtown during the Bite of Bend. Two full-sized kitchens were set up for the Top Chef Competition in downtown, and using a “secret ingredient” in a 45-minute cook-off, the two chefs, with the help of their sous chefs, created entrees that were paired with an appetizer or dessert judged by a panel of local foodies.

Each chef was allowed a sous chef and each chef could bring six personal ingredients, either spices, oils, flour and vinegars, and each chef has to use the secret ingredient in at least one of the two dishes.

The secret ingredient was Cornish Game Hen, which is actually a petite chicken.

The “Kitchen Stadium” came alive with delicious aromas as the two talented chefs focused on their craft.

Chef Hosler created croquettes with red, purple and yellow fingerling potatoes with an added appetizer, an arugula salad and a grilled Spanish onion.

The judges scored the dishes on flavor, the use of the secret ingredient, presentation, originality, and the synergy between the two dishes.

Although Chef Hosler was not chosen to continue through the competition, he learned how the process works.

“It’s a great honor to be able to be acknowledged as one of the top chefs amongst the other eight great competitors in Central Oregon,” Hosler told The Nugget. “Now we know how this works and will move forward and plan for next year.”