PITTSBURG, TX (KLTV) - “I make something new everyday. We don’t have a menu,” says Chef Patrica Wertenbroch.
Wertenbroch is the owner and chef for Bistro Neuf 9, in downtown Pittsburg.
It’s a philosophy that might just help her outperform the competition in her next undertaking, when she competes in a competition for chefs.
On Thursday night in New Orleans she’s set to compete in Culinary Fight Club - a national organization that hosts live cooking competitions.
Contestants won’t be given a menu in advance of the competition or any prep time.
“I actually don’t know what I’m going to make,” she says, describing her plan to dash to the kitchen for ingredients once the competition begins.
She’ll have to be fast, as chefs are only given 45 seconds to pull items from the pantry. Contestants then get an hour to create the best gourmet dish possible centered around a theme.
Audience members and judges will vote on the winning dish. Winners will go on to compete nationally.
Wertenbroch is competing in the Sip and Bite event, where contestants are challenged to create the perfect beverage and food pairing. The event is a team competition.
Three others are joining her in the competition. Brandy Cullins, who will serve as sous chef; Sheryl Ray, standing in as mixologist; and Kulwant Atwal, who will be behind the scenes live streaming the event.
All three are integral parts of the business - Ray is Neuf 9′s regular bartender, Atwal is Wertenbroch’s business partner, and she describes Cullins as “my right and left hand.”
Wertenbroch opened Neuf 9 in October 2018. The bistro serves country French home-cooking.
Opting to open a French restaurant in East Texas wasn’t a decision Wertenbroch made on a whim. She previously spent 25 years living in France - albeit not in a professional kitchen. In her former life, Wertenbroch was in organizational behavior.
“I really enjoy cooking. I know how to cook really well," she says. “People kept telling me I should open a restaurant.”
So when she moved to East Texas where she has family ties, she took their advice.
“I create what I think you want to taste - from scratch,” she adds.
There are no frozen products served at Neuf 9; everything is made fresh daily.
“Bistro Neuf, serving country comfort food with a unique, French twist! Located in downtown Pittsburg and featuring homemade, from-scratch dishes; from locally sourced ingredients. A unique neighborhood restaurant with Parisian flair!” the restaurant’s Facebook page reads.
Wertenbroch says the community has been receptive to Neuf 9.
“We get a lot of people coming in from all over. So far we’ve had really good reviews,” she says.
Her coleslaw with mayonnaise, stuffed jalepenos and fried quail have gotten high praise. And any day she makes steaks, she says she’s guaranteed to sell out.
“I want everyone to have an experience. My thing is, from my heart to your belly,” she says.
In the future, Wertenbroch hopes to to have Ray compete in bartending competitions across the state. She’d also like to have students from across the world come in and train her staff on dishes they make in their own countries.
But first, she’s got her sights set on winning the Culinary Fight Club competition.
Since the team isn’t given time to prepare any dishes in advance, they’ve relied on faith in addition to skill to prepare them for the competition. There’s been a lot of praying, Wertenbroch notes.
But she’s ready to take on this new challenge with her team. Creating a delicious meal is second-nature to her.
“I create food like painting on a canvas. It’s art for me,” Wertenbroch says.
The Culinary Fight Club competition kicks off at 6 p.m. in New Orleans, Louisiana at Central City BBQ, 1201 S. Rampart St. For more information, click here.