"Top Chef" Moonen in Chicago to develop first-ever shrimp dog

July 11, 2010


From left: Rick Moonen, Andrew Zimmern

I was talking with chef Rick Moonen this weekend, who was in town doing a little research and development at the Vienna Beef factory. The "Top Chef" finalist now makes Las Vegas his home - business at his RM Seafood at the Mandalay is up 100% since his appearance on the Bravo show - but he's always been a passionate supporter of sustainably-raised seafood. His love of seafood and hot dogs is leading him down a path to create a first-of-its-kind shrimp dog, laced with garlic, ginger and scallion.

We were talking in a booth at Franks 'n Dawgs in Lincoln Park, where we were both waiting to see buddy Andrew Zimmern, who was in town shooting a future episode of his "Bizarre Foods" show on the Travel Channel. ‚ Moonen said he had been talking with Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia about his dog idea, and since Mantuano works for Levy Restaurants (which also has a huge presence in ballparks and stadiums around the country) the thought had crossed the piscine-focussed chef's mind a few times that the world needed a seafood-based dog to go up against the American icon.

"We've been tweaking a recipe over at Vienna, where they can extrude the stuff in a few minutes," Moonen said. ‚ "We've tried them charred, boiled and steamed, and the best way still seems to be in the "dirty water" method [held in a bath within a steaming device]." He says to keep costs in check, they'll probably add a small amount of tilapia to the blend to stretch it out.

Moonen hasn't come up with a name for his shrimp dog yet; he hasn't even decided on a proper bun. But you can be sure that this new sustainable snack will be a hit with vegetarians at ballparks everywhere. Anyone care to come up with a cool name for this new Moonen Dog?