Delta Cabin Pressure Cook-Off: Ep. 2 - Main Course Challenge

Back at the Institute of Culinary Education's test kitchen, the three Best New Chefs meet their second challenge. They have to create a main course, chill, re-heat, serve and plate in 90 minutes.

Back at the Institute of Culinary Education's test kitchen, the three Best New Chefs meet their second challenge for the Cabin Pressure Cook-Off. This time the judges throw in some of the challenges of serving great meals in the sky. They have to create a main course, chill, re-heat, serve and plate in 90 minutes. The stakes are high as they try to finish within the time frame and win the judges' approval.

Read the transcript of this video
Hi, I'm Jackie Tranchida. And we're at New York's Institute of Culinary Education for the first ever Cabin Pressure Cook-Off. [MUSIC] [SOUND] We started with four. Three remain. Only one chef will walk away with the grand prize, a seat on Delta's culinary team. So please join me in welcoming back our remaining chefs. First up we have Linton Hopkins of Atlanta's Restaurant Eugene, our reigning winner. From Memphis, Kelly English of Restaurant Iris. And George Mendes. Now all meals served in flight, are first cooked on the ground, plated, chilled and then transported to the aircraft. Flight attendants then reheat each dish before serving, so, for your second challenge, create a main course. Plate, chill, reheat and serve. You have 90 minutes to get your main course chilling. Chefs, you're now free to move at the kitchen. [MUSIC] [SOUND] [MUSIC] Oh, simmering cauliflower? Yeah. What's going on this? It's gonna be a leek and cauliflower fondue that we're gonna put underneath the a little bit of fillet. We're roasting beef and making a sauce with it. I'm making some comfortable food, there's nothing more comforting to me than beef. What are you doing? This Plate is only gonna be about layering the flavors, reductions, sweating, obviously, and sort of a slow infusion of flavor. So many times, we look at southern ingredients and we think, oh, it's all about pork. It's overcooked vegetables. The plate for the second challenge is about freshness and seasonality. Tomatoes and summer squash and fresh lady peas. And there's not one pork product in that. So what is the grand master plan? The grand master plan is basically a stew of lobster with lentils. A soup is always better the next day. So we get a lot of flavor right at the beginning. It's chill down, and taste even better after it's chilled. With the cooking underway let's say hello to our judges. We have a new guest judge today. Mark Maynard-Parisi is the senior managing partner for Blue Smoke. Tell us about some of the challenges of creating in flight meals. One of the challenges is interesting because these guys are gonna face it today. You're fully cooking a protein and vegetables and sides and sauces. You're refrigerating it, and then you're brining it up back to temperature sitting in an oven. So you have no more control. We're talking about putting stuff up in the air and transporting it and chilling it and reheating it. It's just another challenge. The great about this business is that there is always something to learn. It is actually about lengthening the time that you can do advance prep on a complete dish, put it in sort of this stasis mode, and then use technology of time and temperature to finish. So is this thing lobster? Michelle what would you say about that? Chill and reheat? He has to under cook it. Or he's gonna be in a little bit of trouble. What is that? That's the lobster roe, lobster tomalley. Got a really intense flavor of lobster and then that's gonna flavor everything at the very end to really give that powerful flavor of lobster. It's a bold choice for sure, but I heated it up very delicately. So I take the tails off, cook those for three minutes. And then I took the claws off, cook those for six minutes. All right chefs, you have an hour before you have to chill your dishes. I'm just delighted at how much connection to each person's sort of culinary heritage these dishes appear to be demonstrating. Kelly is okay. Kelly hangs there. It looks like it. I think he's just having a drink. I feel bad as a sommelier I should be over there helping out. I have this adult proof bottle of sherry that can't be opened. I'm cooking my mushrooms and I'm trying to deglaze my pan with this sherry and I can't get it open. And I come to a point where if I don't get this bottle open, they're gonna over cook. [SOUND] [MUSIC] Did you see what he just did. He sabored it? Well, he kinda. You straight up took a knife. [LAUGH] Well, I didn't feel like I had much of a choice. Everybody was looking at me. How are you feeling about throwing this in a refrigerator and cooling it down? I think it will be good. There's a lot of. Moisture in here. Wait a minute. He pulled out bone marrow. He won me. You had me at bone marrow. You had me at bone marrow. I see the bone marrow. And, I think, it'd just be a great little twist to throw that in at the end of our sauce. Funk it up a little bit. Bone marrow is Miles Davis. The clock says 15 minutes left, chefs. Now are you worried about chilling this down? One of the reasons we're plating so early is I want to chill each component on its own instead of covering it up while it's still hot and maybe. Causing some steam and some moisture. Right. It's very hard with reheating because we're covered in foil and then it become mushy. So what are you gonna do for that? And I thought maybe Little holes in the foil to create a convection current about the steam and the release of air. Cooking is very similar to alchemy. You're not sure until you've done it a bunch of times. Chefs you have five minutes left. [MUSIC] Thirty seconds. Time to get your main course ready to chill. I'm getting like, worried. [MUSIC] Ten seconds. [MUSIC] Five. Four. Three. Two. Time is up. All right. [APPLAUSE] May the best man win. Yeah buddy. Just like in airline. Meal, each chef creation is cooled for a few hours, put back in the oven, then we're gonna heat them up and served them up. [MUSIC] Here we go, so it's crispy, pan-sauteed chicken, shelled lady peas, Ireland tomato fondue And a summer squash casserole and the mustard au jus. And then the kale salad, which has been macerated with blackberry juice. Then we have a vollmer, premier cru, and pinot noir. The vegetables make it a really hearty dish, but not heavy. It's great. It's clean, but yet so satisfying and hearty and rich and comforting. How did you choose this one? Well, I could just drink wine from the region of Burgundy the rest of my life and be completely satisfied. Well done, Chef. Honestly, I think it was a beautiful combination. There's that earthiness from the Burgundy region bringing out that earthiness in the kale and the beef. To me it is just like a stroke of genius. Well, thank you. Thank you. So what we have here is a little fillet of beef. with a little bit of collar flower and leek fondue there is some artichokes that we roasted in brown butter some root vegetables and this is just a little roasted beef jus finished with just a little bit of Bone marrow. That was the bone marrow. Because you had it, you might as well. The gremolata is a really nice spark plug of acidity. I love how the cauliflower actually works with the sauce, as well as a kind of a starch. This is where I get to the point where I'm like, oh, this is why I'm not a vegetarian. Thank you, chef. So this is a lobster and a lentil stew. There's some spices in there, flavored with the lobster sauce that I made. There's some cinnamon, a little bit of star anise. And then, we took the roll of the lobster also and cooked it and sprinkled it everywhere so you get a much more flavor of lobster intensity as well. And the wine you're drinking is one of my favorites. [UNKNOWN] I'm really impressed by the texture of the lobster. I'm really. Amazed at how its cooked perfect. Yeah, I agree. it doesn't taste at all as though it was reheated. No. Tastes as if you were cooking it the first time. Those spices just do a big bear hug with the wine. Well done. Thank you. I appreciate it you guys. Thank you. [UNKNOWN] fried chicken, the most beautiful Perfect dish. All the textures, all the flavors. The other thing I thought that was really interesting of it was a very American dish. Right. It just showed that American food is a cuisine. Once again, Linton blows us away. Yes. All right. Well let's talk about Kelly's dish. Not something maybe I hadn't seen before. Right. And But, man. Talk about not being able to put my fork down. It was one of those dishes that revealed itself as you ate it. Yeah. You sort of discover a little piece of onion or some more sauce. Not the ah-ha when you set it down, but the ah-ha as you ate it. [LAUGH] Right, right. Right. Nice. And George, that lobster just was really intriguing Interesting If in fact it is 30% of our taste buds that we're gonna lose. If you took away 30%. No problem. No Problem. No spicy heat just spice and so the lobster still got to sing out and then putting the lobster coral really amped that lobster taste. We started with all incredible chefs, and they have outdone themselves. Oh yes. Like there's no Theres no mistakes. It's perfection after perfection after perfection. I'd like to get voted off the judging panel right now, just so I don't have to make a decision. But I think we have one, right? I think we do. [MUSIC] Hello chefs. In the second challenge you were asked to create a main course that could be chilled and re-heated and then served in the style of in-flight service. Linton, your take on chicken fingers blew us away. We couldn't have imagined something that would turn out so crisp and those peas are the things of legend. Kelly, you did it again, where you created a dish where I couldn't figure out what the perfect bite was and the sauce, we can't stop talking about the sauce George, a perfectly cooked lobster to boot, and then that salad on top of it was the icing on the cake. So, having said all of that, one of you did rise to the top. [MUSIC] And the And the winner of the second round is Chef Linton Hopkins. [SOUND] Wow. [LAUGH] Awesome. Thank you very much. That means George and Kelly, one of you has been cut. [MUSIC] And I wish I could be voted out of the kitchen rather than Than be in this spot right now, but Chef Kelly English, you will be on the next flight home. Well, thank you all so much for having me. We had criteria. Everybody was on a par on taste, so where we had to go was things like presentation and creativity. Sure, I'm disappointed, but these are world class chefs. I leave here. Head held high and glad that I got to cook with some friends. I feel good, but I can't let anything down. Now's the time to close it out. I'm a big baseball fan, so you don't want to call a no-hitter in the 7th inning- but I want to win it all. All right. Here we go. [SOUND] We're going neck to neck. [LAUGH] Bravo. [APPLAUSE] Kelly is going home, but that mean Linton and George will go to head to head for a spot on the Delta Culinary team. Be sure to stay tuned as the competition continues here at the Institute of Culinary Education. [SOUND] On the next Cabin Pressure Cook-off. [NOISE] Yeah, yeah. Wow. You both really just exceeded our expectations, one did stand out as best. The winner and the newest member of the Delta Culinary team is. [SOUND] [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND]
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Delta Cabin Pressure Cook-Off: Ep. 2 - Main Course Challenge