Delta Cabin Pressure Cook-Off: Ep. 1 - Appetizer Challenge

Kicking off at New York's Institute of Culinary Education, the first challenge of the Cabin Pressure Cook-Off is to transform a signature dish into an in-flight appetizer—in just 45 minutes.

Kicking off at New York's Institute of Culinary Education, the first challenge of the Cabin Pressure Cook-Off is to transform a signature dish into an in-flight appetizer—in just 45 minutes. The goal is to craft signature starters that would celebrate their culinary talents at 30,000 feet. Meet the chefs while they work, hear more about their inspiration, and then watch as they work to win the judges' approval.

Read the transcript of this video
Hi, I'm Jackie Tranchida and we're here at New York's Institute of Culinary Education for the first ever Cabin Pressure Cook-Off. [MUSIC] The rules are simple. Four chefs, three challenges. In each round, one chef will be named the winner but one chef will be eliminated. The chef who wins the final challenge will join Delta's elite culinary team. So let's meet our chefs. From Atlanta, we have Linton Hopkins, executive chef at Restaurant Eugene. Hugh Acheson, chef and partner of Atlanta's Empire State South. Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and George Mendes of New York's Aldea. Welcome, chefs. Thank you. Now, you're all renowned on the ground, but designing meals to be served at 30,000 feet has a whole new set of challenges. So, for challenge number one, take your greatest strength, your signature dish, and re-imagine it as an in-flight appetizer. You have 45 minutes chefs. You're now free to move about the kitchen. [MUSIC] Open up a can of coconut milk. What's that for? That is for our harissa cafe au lait we're making. A little North African spice. It's got a little coriander, some cumin, some garlic, some fascia chili. Here's why I wanna cook for an airline. It's a challenge. It's a whole new set of people to cook for. It's people that I wouldn't necessarily get to cook for in Memphis. I like to cook for as many people as I can. I'm looking left and right, and there are three amazing chefs next to me. My mantra is Is focused, organization, flavor and getting stuff on the plate, and racing against the clock. I like winning. [LAUGH] My game is to just cook what I cook and not really think about the other people. It's like playing golf. You don't play the people you're playing, you play the course. So what do I see being poured into this? Alright, so we have freshly squeezed orange juice a little Georgia Sorghum we will reduce this down to a glaze. With the cooking underway let us meet our judges. Chef Michelle Bernstein a James Beard award winner and a member of Delta's culinary team. Andrea Robinson she is one of only eighteen women in the world To hold the title of Master Sommelier. And she actually personally selects every wine served on Delta Business Elite flights. David Swinghamer, Chief Development Officer of the same Shake Shack and senior partner at the Union Square Hospitality Group. And Christina Grdovic, publisher of Food and Wine. Welcome. Michelle, what are some of the challenges that the chefs face preparing meals for in flight service. The 30% lose of your palate, of taste because you're up in the high altitudes. You kind of lose your senses somewhat. Everything has to taste a little bit more intense. How's it coming along? Awesome. What is that beautiful fish you're cutting up? This is a little bit Yellow Jack from the Gulf of Mexico. Do you kind of go to the market and let the fish of the day inspire you? I go to the market and let All ingredients inspire me. I don't think that we should tell the food what it's going to be I think we should let the ingredients tell us. Oh, what are you grilling up over here? Some skirt steak and I've got some green papayas I'm going to shave and you're going to make a sort of Vietnamese inspired little salad. Now that's an interesting little tool he's using to turn those. Oh, tweezers? Yeah. That is the new tongs. All we use anymore. Any more especially the youngsters. Are those peaches? Georgia peaches. He's playing the hometown game. Yeah. He is Mister Georgia.>> Yeah. Oh bacon! Yeah. It's unfair. It is unfair. I feel that's a cheat ingredient. You always win with bacon. Well, this is a competition, right? George has really good colors. [UNKNOWN] The bright yellows and reds. Paul is very Latin, I would say. How does this become. The George Mendes dish. It's a take on, it's another interpretation of the duck rice that we serve out there. It's going to be reinvented as an appetizer once again. How come you decided to do that? I think chicken's going to be much more readily available in an airport, for one, and who doesn't like chicken? Do you smell the shrimp? I do. It smells delicious. I wonder if they're from the golf. They smell like they are. All right chefs, you have about 15 minutes. Linton's is really coming together. Wow. George, okay that's clearly some sort of a breast on, chicken. And he's making a croquette, like a crispy risotto. There was a little chorizo there too. The rice is such a beautiful color. Yeah. We're gonna cool it down, and then we're gonna roll them up into little balls for patties and fry them. All right chefs. Time is winding down. You have ten minutes. Now as things wrap up, you have to start thinking about plating. Right. And obviously, this poses a new challenge, because the plates are obviously much smaller on airplanes. [SOUND] Have you thought about that yet? I have. And? We're just gonna shrink it a little bit. [LAUGH] The plates were small. Definitely didn't get much room to show off what we're trying to do. Does anybody on this plane have peanut allergy? No. All right, chefs. You have just over a minute. I'm getting nervous. Yeah, I'm a little worried for George. [MUSIC] All right, 10 seconds. [MUSIC] Chefs you have 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, hands in the air. [APPLAUSE] All right. Hugh. You're up first. Okay. So this is a cold beef salad with radishes and cucumber, shaved peanut on top and a really simple shoyu and fish sauce vinaigrette. Definitely. We got sweet, we got tangy and crunchy and the sweet of the papaya really kinda tongues down the chili pepper heat so you get a nice yin and- Yup. Which is one of my favourite flavors in the world, is like really ripe mango and stuff with really hot cayenne pepper and just like the balance on it. Yeah. I just want more of these carrots, these are- Yeah, they're fun. Thank you. Thank you. Hello. Hi. Hello George. So basically, what I did is a roasted chicken slash comte chicken salad, I made it like little. Rustic rice balls that are kind of mixed in with chicken thigh meat and then there's some fresh orange puree. These crunchy bits is this part of the confit or is that something else. That's crispy chicken skin. Fabulous. This is so interesting it just keeps growing. The oranges are a great additive to this dish. It just brightens it up beautifully. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. How you all doing? Hi Kelly So what I made today is what I think of when I think of today's salad. We have peeled potato salad, some grilled yellow tail jack, which is one of my favourite fish, some gulf shrimp, and then in the coffee press we have some cumin, some coriander, some toasted shrimp shells. I want to see you on every flight pouring the sauce. [LAUGH] That's right. And it's beautiful too, the colors and the presentation. I can't figure out what the best bite is here. The shrimp with the tomatoes, the fish with the tomatoes. Christine if you had a mouth as big as mine, you could probably get it all in there. [LAUGH] Okay. This is beautiful. Thanks chef. Well thank you all for having me. Thanks chef. What you have here, is all of Georgia on a plate. So we have vidalia onion. You have Georgia peaches. These are July Princes. Cured smoked bacon, toasted pecans. Pecans actually come from the oldest organic grown pecan trees in the state. One thing about your cooking is that it looks so simple, but it's so incredibly complicated and complex. Yeah, I can't get over the char of the onion Onion with a smokiness of bacon. Well thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Yeah, thank you, chef. It's great. [UNKNOWN] excellent. I think we should talk about [UNKNOWN]. He came up first. Really good flavors. It was really fresh. I couldn't stop eating it. I loved the pickling. I thought that was excellent. Excellent, the carrots really like the way that worked with the meat. For me, I wanted each element to marry just a little better. That doesn't mean it wasn't a great dish. But there was just something about the experience of it where I felt like I was just eating several different things. George brought us a really complex, very. Interesting dish. For me, I actually felt like the orange was almost a little too much. But then, I couldn't help but think about what it would be like on a plane. And it would be great on the plane because you've talked about the taste buds so the flavor was still good. If I close my eyes, I would know that that was George. That just really captures He shared his personality and his background and all the culture was really on that plate and I loved that. Let's talk about Kelly because that gulf shrimp, that broth is just really kind of calling me. The harissa cafe au lait. Oh yeah. In the press pot. I mean coconut cumin. There were at least three different perfect bites in that one dish. Oh at least. So Linton, everything has a reason, to be there. It does, it married so well. Each item belonged on that plate. Starting with the presentation, that was the one that we could see the furthest away. And then when it came up close it was literally a work of art. And they all have a story and a source. And he'll tell you the name and the farm, how long the grove's been planted and. [MUSIC] Every single ingredient. We have four great chefs, four great dishes. So, yeah, this is the hard part. I hate this, but we definitely, I think we've. I think we are there, right? Yeah. You got it. Yeah. I think we have our answer. Yeah. [MUSIC] Hello, chefs. This was a very difficult decision, as all of these dishes really represented. You and your personality. So it's hard to pick a winner. One did stand out as best. The winner of the first round, [MUSIC] Is Linton. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] Sadly, that means that one of you three have been cut. Chef Hugh, I'm sorry, but you're on the next flight home. Hugh, the truth is, your dish. Which was the most approachable, the easiest to eat. The only difference is, you didn't show as much of your personality as the other chefs did. I was shocked that Hugh went home. I think the world of Hugh and somebody's got to go though. I get that. I think that the four dishes up there were all really good food, mine included. And I thought mine had freshness since the way I like to eat. Circumstances like this it's three friends who I like a lot. They're all amazingly gifted chefs who really brought their game and did really well. Well. So they should be proud. Hugh is going home but, Linton, Kelly and George are one step closer to a spot on Delta's culinary team. Be sure to stay tuned as the competition continues here at the Institute of Culinary Education. On the next Cabin Pressure cook off. 15 Minutes left chef. One of you did rise to the top. And the winner of the second round is. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND]
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Delta Cabin Pressure Cook-Off: Ep. 1 - Appetizer Challenge