Monday, February 27, 2012

Black Box, not just for crappy pilots...

Brodie, Me (CWC), Sous Chef Amira, Young Boy, Colin, Jessy

In the culinary world there is a wide array of different fields cooks like to compete against each other in. This is mainly because the majority of us have egos the size of primal cuts of beef (HA!) and generally we spend our days trying to continually prove that I (you) am better than you (me and everyone else in the kitchen anywhere). Got it?
The only relevant test to prove ones superior culinary skill, manhood, heterosexuality, etc, is the black box exam. The premise is simple, the execution is exciting and full of cook on cook action which I love. I love the cook on cook action.
For those who don’t know, here is the premise. You are given a covered box with ingredients inside which you MUST use in your dish. As well, you are given a common box, which contain many secondary ingredients that you must share with your competitors but you do not need to use. Dry goods (salt, pepper, flour, oil, etc.) are always available. There is a theme given (Surf & Turf, Appetizers, etc.) and a timeline (anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours).
Cuisiniers! Knives sharp? EGO’S READY?? ANNNNNNNDDDDD GO!!!
Five of us superstar RYH cooks recently went against each other in a thirty minute black box exam to see whose back had the most silver hair on it. The theme was appetizers. The black box contained:
1) Diver Scallop x 1
2) 3oz. Black Cod x 1
3) Large Eggs x 2
4) ½ English Cucumber
5) Jalepeno Pepper x 1
The common box (ingredients being optional) contained:
1) Meyer Lemons
2) Whole Slab Bacon
3) Miso Paste
4) Sultana Raisins
5) Carrots
The competition was hilarious and amazing. Throughout the competition, everyone went dead quiet and kept their focus much like on Iron Chef (The Japanese version). It was serious stuff. For my part, I played the cocky loud guy (The Bobby Flay of the bunch) who at one point was deducted points for interfering with another competitor… specifically, interfering with his pants…
I will not judge or spew an opinion how anyone did as I do have to work with all these guys on a daily basis and they are for the most part bigger than me. I will note that every last one of the plates was completely edible which is perfect as far as my stomach is concerned.

Jessy, (Bonus points for firing off actual orders while doing this)

Jalapeno Thyme Poached Cod
Rendered Pork Seared Diver Scallop
Cucumber, Endive, Ginger Slaw

Mark (Points for being most molecular and cocky and doing his first black box!)

Scallop & Sable Fish
Maple Slab, Miso Broth, Poached Hen's Egg
Cucumber, Raisin, Riesling Gelee

Colin (Points for all the freaking fusion on one plate)

Diver Scallop Ceviche
Seared Sable Fish
Jerusalem Artichoke Egg Yolk Risotto

Jerek (Points deducted for the most unflattering photo)

Pork & Scallop
Jalapeno Slab Bacon Sous Vide, Sunny Side Yolk, Sultana Puree

Black Cod Escabeche
Grilled Endive, Citrus-Cucumber Slaw
Meyer Lemon, Honey Confit

Ian (Points for being the only one to attempt emulsifying anything in the comp.)

Panko Crusted Diver Scallop

Black Cod Papillote
Jalapeno, Lemongrass, Green Onion

Lemon Jasmine Rice
Cucumber, Radish

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