"Let's hear it for brunch!" said Nick Suarez to a room full of excited cooks and satisfied eaters, who responded with energetic whoops and hollers. Suarez and his partner-in-crime, Theo Peck, are the duo taking the New York cook-off world to new heights with their "food experiments."
Sunday's event, the Brooklyn Brunch Experiment, which was sold-out in advance, proved that New Yorkers love their brunch. As opposed to the other cook-offs organized by Suarez and Peck, such as the cheese or taco experiment, this event offered more of an array in terms of what the chefs could prepare. The collection was impressive.
There were a total of 20 contestants and they touched upon every variety of the brunch spectrum, from Sausage-Stuffed French Toast to Pork Hash Tamales to Duck Confit Donuts with Bacon Marmalade. Hundreds of participants trickled into the Bell House starting at noon, eating their way through the diverse selection, before the prizes were announced at 3:30 pm.
The panel of judges included Andrew Knowlton, the restaurant editor at Bon Appetit and judge on Iron Chef America. First place for the Judges Awards went to Wanna Spoon's "Breakfast Cupcakes," a savory corn cupcake with bacon buttercream frosting accompanied by a Bloody Mary shooter with spicy candied bacon. "Could be served as an amuse-bouche at the French Laundry!" said Knowlton.
As with every Food Experiment cook-off, each eater got a vote. The audience award was the most coveted, with the most extravagant prize: two round-trip tickets donated by JetBlue Airways. The champion was "The Righteous Kentucky," by Righteous Burn, a crispy breakfast bread bowl with an egg, homemade sausage, and homemade Kentucky bourbon syrup.
While their day jobs consist of non-food related endeavors (like working at a hedge fund) the Righteous Burn guys were an enthusiastic, bandanna-wearing culinary trio, eager to explain and serve their dish. Righteous Burn has participated and placed in previous Food Experiments, and I would be surprised if they call is quits after this triumph.
While the Food Experiments are a good excuse to put your palate-discerning skills to the test, each event feels more like a celebratory feast than anything else. This quirky food event is not to be missed, for foodies and non-foodies alike. As the brunch experiment wrapped up yesterday, there was already excitement revolving around the next experiment, in July.
The theme: hot dogs. I can only imagine what clever variations will be featured.