Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top Chef: Westchester Edition!

It’s the little things in life that make me happy. Such as the premiere of Top Chef: Las Vegas tonight on Bravo, 9/8 Central (if one can even call this a little thing). What does this mean? For the next month or so, I am unavailable Wednesday evenings for anything that doesn’t involve vegging on my couch and drooling over Quickfire dishes (and Tom Colicchio). Friends know better than to call me after 9:00 p.m. these nights. In exchange, I’ll do my best to post wrap-ups/commentary on each episode after the air date.

In celebration of Season 6 (because Season 6 obviously calls for celebration), I organized a little Top Chef Potluck at work today. Co-workers were asked to make a dish, slap a fancy/funny “gourmet” name on it, all in the spirit of competing for the title of Top Chef Westchester (hope Bravo doesn’t sic its legal department on me). The results were great! I was bursting with pride when I saw how much my co-workers embraced this challenge.

Here’s a look at our dishes:


“Dip… a la seven layer”

“Clam Chowdah”
It’s pretty obvious that this particular individual didn’t actually make the chowder. He was originally going to do a raw bar and shuck oysters himself (which would’ve been awesome), but at the eleventh hour, he realized the potential health risks of serving raw shellfish at the office and shut himself down. ...I guess he made the right decision. But the chowdah was great.

“Deviled Eggs”

“Garlic, Garlic Dip”
I can’t even begin to tell you how garlicky this was. In a good way.

“The finest cured European meats that Julius Caesar himself would rise from his grave for”
We had a Charcuterie plate! How legit are we?

“Pasta Pasta Pasta Salad!”

“Lumpiang Shanghai Dumplings”

This dish ended up taking the Top Chef title in the “Appetizer” category. And for good reason. It was mouth-watering. It’s a mixture of ground chicken (you can use ground pork), carrots, celery and onion. Stir fry the chicken until cooked, add slices of American cheese, one egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Wrap with pastry wrapper and deep fry. The sauce is a sweet chili sauce, but sweet and sour sauce also works.


“El Arroz con la Salchicha” (Spanish rice with sausage)

“Pappardelle with Bolognese”
I took this picture before my co-worker Suzanne added the sauce. She didn’t want to combine the pasta with the sauce the night before--smart girl--because it would’ve made the pappardelle soggy. Instead, her dish was perfect.

“Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers and Spinach”

“Fiesta Corn Salad”

99.999999999989% Organic Mixed Salad
This was prepared tableside, a nice touch.

“Tacos Sauve Pollo”
Courtesy of co-worker Monte’s visit to Coyote Flaco in Port Chester. Thanks, Monte!

“Sausage and Peppers”
The winner for “Entrees.” What a dish! Diane even brought in her own crock-pot to make sure the temperature was just right.


I made my almond cake. (And by mine, I suppose I mean The Amateur Gourmet’s almond cake. Who took it from Amanda Hesser.)
It came out much better than last time. No problems with the mixer. My only issue was that even with air conditioning, it was about 1000 degrees in my apartment after leaving the oven on for almost an hour in the dead of summer. It’s not the prettiest cake in the world (I had trouble slicing it into small pieces for easy sharing) but I assure you, this cake is foolproof taste-wise.


“Biscuits de Potiron” (Pumpkin Cookies)

“Plain Old Awesome Cupcakes”

“Take THAT, Cheesecake Factory!” Layered Strawberry Cheesecake
The cheesecake won the Dessert category, and the “All-Time Favorite Dish” category for our whole event. It was stunning (the picture doesn’t do it justice). Stephanie got the recipe here, saying it was super-easy to make. She did mention that the recipe was missing the step to drizzle semi-sweet baker’s chocolate on top: she melted it in the microwave and drizzled it with a spoon. To make the covered strawberries, she melted three more squares of the chocolate, rolled the strawberries in it, and put them on a paper plate in the fridge to harden. She added the strawberries and extra Cool Whip at the last minute.

And there you have it. What a fantastic day, and what a truly amazing group of people to work with. And tallying up the votes-- a hoot! We had co-workers bring in paper plates, cups, soda, etc. When I was going through the nominations, I saw people had scrawled in “Winner” categories for “Fine China” and “Sparkling Beverages.”
Guess they didn’t want to be left out.


  1. I love it! I wish I was there the next day!!!! Looking at these pics is making my mouth water... yummy!

    Good job on the sparkling bev and fine china comments :)

  2. Wow. What a great idea! Looks like you guys had quite a feast. I don't know what you do or where you work but are you hiring? ;)
    -- Hungry Pumpkin @

  3. My goodness! Where do you work? Talented bunch of colleagues!

  4. Hi Liz! Thanks for visiting!

    Yep, my co-workers sure are. It's actually a field completely unrelated to food or publishing, (...which sort of makes it all the more impressive). Don't know if I'm allowed to say where I work, just in case... I dunno... I ever swear on here or something. :)

    Would LOVE to see what the folks over at The Journal News come up with - you should try it! Heck, EVERYone should have a Top Chef party!

  5. Great idea. That charcuterie plate looks delicious.