Cook-offs embody two of mankind’s most beloved things: food and competition. Chicago Reader recently held its Key Ingredient Cook-Off at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, and a portion of the proceeds went to Common Threads (a.k.a. Art Smith’s charity for kids).
Participating gladiators included Chris Pandel from The Bristol and Balena, Dana Cree from Blackbird, Abraham Conlon from Fat Rice, Jason Hammel from Lula Cafe, Meg Galus from NoMI, and Mark Steuer from Carriage House. These renowned chefs were asked to cook with esoteric products such as chestnut and sheep’s milk, and diners voted for their favorite dish in each ingredient category.
I was personally impressed by the creativity and tastiness of these dishes:
NOMI: Sheep milk mousse, cornflake praline, butterscotch, whipped caramel
THEWIT: stomach and tail, young carrots, fennel dust, crispy shallot, rice porridge
HOMESTEAD ON THE ROOF: Toasted chestnut flour cake, candied chestnut mousse, chestnut flour macaroon
CARNIVALE: Brown butter chestnut ice-cream, strawberry rhubarb puree, and chestnut pretzel stick
LULA CAFÉ:Sweet Jonah crab, white miso, apple, hazelnut milk
FAT RICE: Miso Munchkin
I’m especially pleased that bacon and Siracha weren’t chosen as one the key ingredients, and I hope that next year’s event will yield even more eccentric dishes.