Top Chef 2 winner Ilan Hall and Top Chef 3 champ Hung Huynh each came to their win via a different story arc. Ilan was the young chef with the Spanish cuisine know-how who battled against the chef, Marcel Vigneron, that many viewers that season found to be thoroughly unlikable. Classically-trained Hung, on the other hand, was the chef many viewers found to be unlikable himself.
Since their seasons on Top Chef, the two have continued their culinary ambitions, and each recently had a new challenge to face, each, coincidentally, within the realm of kosher cooking.
As we’ve seen, neither chef has really been established as a kosher chef, a discipline that follows Jewish dietary laws, and requires following rules around acceptable cooking and serving practices and excluding certain ingredients like pork and shellfish.
For Hung’s kosher adventure, he is headed to the Big Apple. He has a one-month contract as Executive Chef at Solo, a Mediterranean kosher restaurant with some Asian influences. His tenure will begin March 2, but, he told the New York Times, “Who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with the place.”
Hung is currently in Ho Chi Minh City, no doubt soaking up new flavors and ideas for his new role. While Vietnamese cuisine isn’t necessarily an obvious inspiration for kosher cooking, its reliance on highly flavorful ingredients like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves can help give a meal very satisfying flavors without relying on techniques that might be forbidden, like mixing meat and dairy.
Ilan’s recent brush with kosher cooking wasn’t quite as serious as a new job, but it was still an interesting challenge. He participated in a kosher cook-off called “Dorm Room Challenge” at the University of Michigan.
The Top Chef winner squared off against a professional kosher chef to create a dish that could be made by a college student in his or her dorm room. They were very limited to ingredients typically found in the average student’s place, like peanut butter, bagels and bananas. They had $20 with which to buy additional ingredients, and then could only use a microwave, electric griddle and an electric kettle to complete their meal.
Ilan found himself a winner again, creating a tomato ravioli with poached egg yolks. Like Hung, he wasn’t deterred by the challenges bringing big taste while keeping kosher, saying, “Food is food is food.”
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: The New York Times, DailyNorthwestern.com
(Image courtesy of Bravo)