Thursday, May 17, 2012

Top Chef Tour

Ok, I know it's not BBQ, but its cooking and it's fun.

Yesterday when I was walking to the train to go home I noticed a tent being set up across from the train station with a large orange sign on it that read "Top Chef The Tour ." This looked interesting but I needed to get home so I didn't think much more about it.
This morning I was walking into work from the train and the tent was still there. This called for an investigation.

I did a search and found out about the Top Chef Tour and it would be held three times today and one of them fit into my lunch hour. I would make this happen. As I searched around for more information I saw that you needed to preregister and it was a free event. Unfortunately registration was full but they said to show up anyway. I did. I put my name on the list and got to go into the tent to watch two Top Chefs cook it out.
Nikki Cascone
Hector Santiago
The chefs who were competing were Nikki Cascone and Hector Santiago. Their secret ingredient was pork. Very fitting for the Carolinas as BBQ is king here. They each chose their own secret ingredient also. Nikki chose peanuts and Hector cucumbers.

Nikki made a pork tenderloin with a mango and avocado salsa. The salsa had bacon in it also and the pork was flavored with thai spices and garnished with peanuts. It was a great dish. All the flavors married well together. I'm not a mango or avocado fan but I ate all the salsa.

Hector made a pork cutlet that he marinated in a juice and vinegar as a homage to BBQ pork. It had the underlying flavor of a good Eastern Carolina BBQ sauce but not over powering. Served it over a grit cake with a cucumber and radish pickled salad. All the flavors worked well together and played with some of the South's specialties.

The dishes. Nikki's is on the top, Hector's on the bottom.
The dishes were judge by local judges. One is a restaurant writer and food critic, Heidi Billotto and the other two are chefs. One at the Mez and the other, Luca Annunziata,  at Passion8 Bistro (which I will have to try). The judges got to taste the food and share their thoughts on it and then choose the winner.
Luca Annunziata, Hector Santiago, Nikki Cascone, Heidi Billotto, and the Mez chef. 
Both were great and looked really nice. Nikki's flavors and colors won the day.

It was a fun event and interesting to hear about the show uncensored. If the tour is in your city try to check it out, its worth it.

(If I have any of the names wrong, please forgive me and let me know I will correct them.)

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