Reporting for duty

Michael Voltaggio is on fire. Every week he is vying for a win on Top Chef. In episode two, Michael’s Golden Delicious inspired dessert was second best, losing only to his brother. In the most recent episode, he wins the Air Force Challenge, convincingly.

michael_vLet’s hope Michael Voltaggio isn’t burning too bright after
a red hot start in the competition.

A few highlights from last week’s Air Force Challenge episode:

  • The Quickfire competition challenges the cheftestants to create an “out of this world” potato dish. Guest judge is Mark Peel, who landed his first culinary job peeling vegetables for Wolfgang Puck. The challenge involves potatoes; his last name is peel — get the connection? I didn’t at first, but it’s clever all right.
  • Jennifer, who is also on fire, kicks ass and wins the Quickfire (with steamed mussels with lemongrass potato sauce), giving her immunity — and more importantly, total respect in the kitchen.
  • The Elimination Challenge has the cheftestants working as a team to prepare a meal for 300 airmen at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The menu includes hearty classics such as clam chowder, braised pork shoulder and potato salad, and chocolate bread pudding with peanut butter sauce.
  • Michael V stands out, making a more contemporary dish of braised pork belly with soy mustard, wrapped in lettuce and served with a peanut garnish.
  • Preeti is the chef sent home, because she was inexplicable in her defense of her and Laurine’s hodgepodge, yet unflavorful, pasta salad. I  felt bad for Preeti. The dish was as much Laurine’s fault as her own. But someone’s gotta go.

porkbellyMichael Voltaggio’s pork belly lettuce wrap is on the right.
Ignore Michael Isabella’s greek salad on the left.

For the drink pairing — over the weekend, I made my own version of Michael V’s pork belly lettuce wraps and served the dish with sake, a rice wine from Japan. Whole Foods has a good selection of inexpensive sakes, so Mr. S&C picked us up a 375 ml bottle of Fudo Myoo, for less than $6.00. The Fudo Myoo brand is fairly sweet (hints of banana and anise), and is best served chilled. The chilled sweet beverage is a nice counter balance to the richness (and absolute deliciousness) of the pork belly. Kanpai!

The Top Chef Drink Pairing is a reoccurring feature on the S&C blog, where we recap the previous week’s episode, and pair the winning dish with a cocktail, or other suitable alcoholic beverage.

posted by Ms. S&C

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