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When it comes to judging a competition, there’s no better group of discerning taste-testers to turn to than the cast of Chopped. At this Sunday’s Absolut Best Bloody Mary Brunch during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, the cast of Chopped gathered to host an elegant sit-down event, which featured food stations manned by former Chopped competitors and drink stations run by the eight finalists in Thrillist’s Search for America’s Best Bloody Mary, sponsored by Absolut Vodka. Attendees voted for the best bloody Mary and the Chopped cast picked three winners: best dressed, most creative and most original/exotic.
The big award of the day went to Kristin Alfandre from Mason’s Grill in Baton Rouge, La., wining a trip to serve at next year’s South Beach Wine &Food Festival in Miama, Fl. Her drink, called the Bloody Mason (Burn Baby, Burn!) used the classic Bloody Mary mix with Absolut Peppar vodka, horseradish, Sriracha, lemon, lime and Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. Toppings included bacon, beef jerky straw, celery, okra, cocktail onions and a green bean.
FN Dish was on hand to capture the best brunch creations — and drinks. Read on to find out more about the winning drinks and which dishes were the standouts from former Chopped competitors.
Best Dressed went to Sibrina Peck of Sliders Seaside Grill in Fernandina Beach, Fl., for her Sliders Seaside Absolut Redtide, which included Heinz ketchup, Ocean Spray sour mix and V8 juice along with a garnish of celery, olive and shrimp. Most original/exotic went to Joe Robinson of Frontera/Michael Symon’s Roast in Detroit, Mich., for his Use Your Melon, Mary, which combined watermelon and tomato juices.
Most creative went to Betsy Duffy of The Cellar Peanut Pub in Iowa. Her drink, called Duffy’s Bloody Mary (pictured above), was one of the most unique. It included Absolut Peppar vodka, Clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, two kinds of Tabasco sauce, Cholula chipotle sauce, pickle juice and a medley of spices including Lawry’s seasoned salt. Toppings included beef jerky straw, celery, asparagus, baby corn, jalapeno slice, sport pepper slice, stuffed olive and pickle spear.
Chef Eric LeVine of Morris Tap & Grill in Randolph, N.J., presented a brunch trio of mustard brushed chicken wrapped in bacon, grilled veggie “cube” with corn and mushroom ragout, and a short rib mini taco.
Chef Danny Lachs of Tortaria in New York City served his breakfast torta, a slider of spicy pinto beans and chorizo spread, scrambled eggs, ranchero sauce, pickled red onion, sliced avocado, pickled jalapenos and chipotle mayo, all served on a semolina roll. The mini Mexican sandwiches were a great combination of south-of-the-border flavors with classic breakfast ingredients.
Chef Tryg Siverson, of Feel Good Foods in New York City, served a crispy fingerling potato and Brussels sprouts hash with soft poached egg, kale chips and kale pesto. The play on textures made this dish one of the most interesting.
At the end of the event, the entire cast of Chopped including (pictured at top, from left to right) Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan, Marcus Samuelsson, Ted Allen, Amanda Freitag, Aarón Sánchez, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian, Chris Santos and Scott Conant posed for a group shot, which host Ted joked was their first “class picture” together.
Check out FN Dish for more coverage of the festival this past weekend.