If the path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, then last night’s judges panel, myself included, are now experts in food. To pick (pun totally intended) this year’s backstage chef for the Roots Picnic, ?uestlove and his people selected nine finalists to compete in a 5-course cook-off from a pool of entries sent to @cook4quest. If you do the math, that means we had to score an elastic pants-worthy 54 courses. I’ll be submitting my audition tape for The Biggest Loser later this week.
The local-heavy roster included Scott Schroeder of SPTR, Kenny Bush of Bistrot la Minette, Skinny Fat Kid Brian Tucker, chef-at-large Jen Zavala, Clara Park, and Anthony Leo. One chef, Nick Wilson, even came all the way from Fitchburg, MA. After a brief cocktail interlude, we took our seats and got to gorging. Each chef had to make two signature drum sticks, one chicken and one seitan (Questo respects all diets); something called “soul on a stick,” literally intended to be soul food on a stick; a signature salad; a potato dish; and a signature dish of the chef’s choosing. While there are way too many to name, we could all agree on our favorites of the evening, and aside from “Voicemail Lady” Elita B’s perfectly cooked fried chicken wing (she’s from NYC), the locals got the highest marks, including Kenny Bush, who ended up the victor. But if the following chefs, and we’re asking nicely, would be kind enough to put these dishes on their menu, then we’re all winners:
- Kenny Bush: Macaroni & Cheese. Deceptively light and very cheese-complex. Not exactly French, but could you sneak it on Bistrot la Minette’s menu anyway?
- Scott Schroeder: Fried PB&J. The trifecta of sweet, salty, and crunchy.
- Scott Schroeder (again): Fried seitan with smoked mozzarella. Do it for the hippies, Scott (and secretly for us).
- Clara Park: The tzatziki-drenched kale was on the lighter side of the evening, and a creative way to showcase the hearty green.
Congrats to Kenny, and congratulations and thanks to Questo and his team for a successful event.