. The recent Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival at Harrah's and Harveys in Stateline at South Lake Tahoe was over the top in a good way. The three-day party featured food-and-wine pairings, multi-course dinners, cooking demonstrations and costumed showgirls moving to a Latin beat.
One feature was an eating competition, judged by the Food Network's "Chopped" champion, New Orleans firefighter Michael Gowland.
The two-man eating team from the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department in Nevada beat out the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department team, donating the $500 prize to the 52 Foundation to benefit the families of fallen firefighters. Meanwhile, Harrah's-Harveys donated $2,000 to the Carson Valley Food Closet.
But what were those Godzilla-size sandwiches the four burly firemen on stage were so valiantly trying to finish in the 30-minute time frame?
Turns out the contest fare was the Dominator, on the menu of Harrah's American River Cafe from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
We asked executive chef Brad Budd about its contents.
"All things pork," he said. As in sliced ham, breaded pork cutlet, smoked pork loin, pulled barbecued pork-rib meat, regular and country-fried bacon, Asian-style red pork and polish sausage. It's topped with sweet-hot coleslaw and lime vinaigrette and served on a house-made onion-sourdough roll. The Dominator weighs 5-1/2 pounds and costs $69. If you eat the whole thing, Harrah's will pick up the tab.
How was the Dominator born?
"We were doing inventory in the kitchen and I was looking for something that could become our signature dish," Budd said. "We had a lot of pork items around, and started putting them together. We got a little out of control, but nothing exceeds like excess..."
Who orders it? "We've had fraternity parties here and a few (of the brothers) have given it a shot," he said. "Most people cut it up and share it. Everybody gets a big charge out of it."
Has Budd himself knocked back a Dominator? "Oh, no," he said with a laugh. "I'm certain I couldn't eat the whole thing."
The American River Cafe is inside Harrah's hotel-casino at Stateline, Nev.; (775) 588-6611, www.harrahslaketahoe.com