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Local chefs on the best spots for unique food combos

Aaron Sanchez on the upcoming season of

Aaron Sanchez on the upcoming season of "Chopped All Stars"

On “Chopped All Stars,” which premieres on the Food Network on Sunday, top chefs put their creativity to the test, concocting meals out of ingredients that traditionally don’t mix (think rabbit kidneys, dried hibiscus flowers and teething biscuits).

Some of the local chefs appearing this season gave us their take on New York City restaurants that embody the show’s spirit — perfect for those foodies who want to try a more out-there dish without having to do any of the cooking themselves.

“Michael Psilakis’ restaurant Fish Tag (222 W. 79th St., 212-362-7470) does a wonderful job of combining interesting flavors and ingredients. The dish that best reflects the spirit of ‘Chopped’ is the grilled branzino stuffed with head cheese.It’s grilled over an open flame and is just delicious.”
— Aaron Sanchez, "Chopped" chef-testant and owner and executive chef of Centrico (211 West Broadway, 212-431-0700)

“I love Kelso’s, a Panamanian restaurant in Crown Heights (648 Franklin Ave., 718-857-4137). They serve amazing carimanolas — yucca fritters stuffed with cheese or meat — and cow hoof soup.”
— Marcus Samuelsson, “Chopped” judge and owner of Red Rooster (310 Lenox Ave., 212-792-9001)

No. 7 Sub in the Ace Hotel (1188 Broadway, 212-532-1680). I had a mushroom, watermelon, some sort of cream cheese and potato chip sandwich that I think best reflects ‘Chopped.’”
— Anita Lo, "Chopped" chef-testant and executive chef and owner of Annisa Restaurant (13 Barrow St., 212-741-6699)

“'Chopped’ is all about limitations and how to push creativity and technique through roadblocks. On the show, the hurdles are the ingredients and the time constraint. In New York City, time is always a constraint — but I don’t think a restaurant would willingly have such a mixed bag of ingredients. Space in NYC is often the biggest challenge, and I am amazed by what some restaurants can do out of a shoebox. Prune (54 E. First St., 212-677-6221), Cafe Gitane (242 Mott St., 212-334-9552) and Ino (21 Bedford St., 212-989-5769) are some of my favorites. They don’t let the space limitation in the kitchen deter their inherent sense of hospitality and delicious offerings.”
— Geoffrey Zakarian, "Chopped" chef-testant and executive chef of the Lambs Club (132 W. 44th St., 212-997-5262)

“I don’t think any restaurant can fully embody the spirit of 'Chopped.' No restaurant can be as crazy, intense or off the wall as 'Chopped.' Who would eat there? The chefs would be weeping in the kitchen and the guests would fear what they will be eating next. There is one dish that makes me think of ‘Chopped’ every time I eat it. It blows me away how well all the flavors come together and how such unusual ingredients meld into one great dish. I’m speaking of the escargot at Blue Ribbon Restaurant. Escargot, apples, veal demi, bacon and crostini make this dish a true meshing of flavors.”
— Michael Proietti, “Chopped” chef-testant and food & beverage director at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle (One Radison Plz., 914-576-3700)

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