"Malort Face" and other Key Ingredient Cook-Off bites to come | Bleader

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Malort Face" and other Key Ingredient Cook-Off bites to come

Posted By on 04.23.13 at 03:57 PM

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Marianne Sundquists Ants on a Log, Cocktail Hour
  • Marianne Sundquist's "Ants on a Log, Cocktail Hour"
When Julia Thiel and Michael Gebert head out to do the shoots for our chef-to-chef challenge, Key Ingredient, they never know what to expect. Michael Carlson started his demo with a stiff shot of Malort. Brandon Baltzley found that a tray of cocoa-nib chicharron he'd set out to cool had blown off of the 25th-floor balcony of the apartment where he was cooking. More recently, a slight mishap led to the following exchange at Abraham Conlon's Fat Rice:

Conlon: "Nico [sous chef], I might need you to scrub this pork uterus."
Nico: "Scrub what?"
Conlon: "I burnt the uterus. And it's important. Take out the least burnt, and just kind of clip it off. Try to keep it intact as much as possible."

Nor do we have any idea what most of the 26 chefs recruited for the Key Ingredient Cook-Off will come up with—but we have been given a few sneak peeks.

Mess Hall's Marianne Sundquist, whose original installment showcased pork cheeks, sent us the sketch above, her blueprint for a truffle-size bite featuring celery, her assigned cook-off ingredient. "Ants on a Log, Cocktail Hour"—which suggests the latter with a center of sherry gelee—will have a base of peanut butter sponge cake, topped by frozen celery mousse coated with white chocolate, and garnished with a celery leaf dusted with gold—another ingredient used in the series.

Paula Haney and Allison Scott of Hoosier Mama Pie went all out their first time around, experimenting with millet until they'd come up with two dishes: a hand pie with beer-soaked millet and millet tabbouleh and a parfait with creamy millet pudding topped off with salted chocolate millet bark. This time Haney and Scott, working with dried shrimp, have devised a chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with dried shrimp, porcini mushrooms, midwestern kimchi, and dried-shrimp kettle corn. Haney's only question: "Do you need a shorter name?"

Last we heard, Matt Troost of Three Aces, who originally got the Brazilian staple dende oil, was planning to put a twist on his new ingredient, Jeppson's Malort, by braising pig face in the wormwood-based spirit to make his very own Malort Face.

The Key Ingredient Cook-Off is Friday, May 3, from 7 to 10 PM (6 PM start for VIPs) at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 31st; tickets are $65 ($100 VIP), available here.

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