ECC-trained chef’s truffle beef empanada deemed best dish in this week’s ‘Top Level’ competition – Chicago Tribune

Zach Laidlaw, an Elgin Community College-trained chef, won the international street food challenge on Thursday’s episode of “Next Level Chef,” allowing his team to move into the top floor kitchen for the show of the next week.

Laidlaw made a beef empanada with truffle-infused dough, topped with aioli sauce and truffle shavings.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay joked that the dish would be considered street food on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Celebrity chef Nyesha Arrington praised Laidlaw’s “incredible puff pastry,” while Richard Blais, the celebrity chef who mentors the Laidlaw team, deemed the dish good enough to be on the menu at ‘one of his restaurants.

“It’s a high standard,” Ramsay said of Laidlaw’s work.

Of his victory, Laidlaw said: “I finally got it. »

Laidlaw is trying to land the top dish in the weekly competition, which airs every Thursday on ABC and streams on Hulu, since its launch in February. He came close during the previous episode’s island seafood challenge, but his butter-poached lobster with chorizo ​​and coconut was beaten by a Jamaican jerk tuna prepared by professional chef Von Smith.

Thursday’s episode featured a twist. The platform delivering ingredients to each cooking level barely stopped, forcing contestants to move quickly or find themselves without everything they needed to complete the challenge. On one of the passes, Laidlaw managed to catch a truffle which he valued at $500.

Laidlaw, a 34-year-old Burlington native who currently works in Maui, and his team competed Thursday from the mid-level kitchen. They’ll have access to the best high-level gear and ingredients for next week’s challenge, which will have Arrington’s team in the basement and Ramsay’s in the middle.

Indeed, YouTube chef Jordan Torrey of Florida, a member of Ramsay’s team, competed head-to-head with Alexandra Donnadio, a New Jersey cook on Team Arrington, in the elimination round. Although all three celebrity chefs said their dishes were good – “There was nothing wrong in front of us,” Ramsay said – Torrey’s street skewers and Donnadias’ street steak were rated the least impressive and led to the two men facing each other in the final competition. of the day.

To stay on the show, Torrey and Donnadio had to make chicken wings. Torrey’s garlic-parmesan creation outperformed Donnadio’s version of Buffalo Hot Wings.

Next Thursday, the remaining chefs will face a “one step up” challenge, where those at each level will work with a large hunk of beef.

Mike Danahey is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

Leave a Reply