Chef Battle Royale 2012: Photos and the food quiz

October 29, 2012

And the winner of the WBEZ 2012 Chef Battle Royale is...Tank Noodle! Tank's vegetarian lemongrass coconut tofu curry served with bread, and lemongrass chicken curry served with rice, both cooked with Goose Island Sofie beer, won the most votes from 800 attendees at the 4th annual Off-Air event at Salvage One last week.

But really, we were all winners, with dishes from Ras Dashen, Staropolska, Borinquen, Munch and Tank — each challenged with creating two dishes, one vegetarian — with a different Goose Island beer and ingredients from Whole Foods. Mostly vegan Munch made both dishes vegetarian. Ras Dashen made three dishes total, including goat, all served with a soft, tart roll of injera, the traditional Ethiopian edible utensil. Plus Black Dog Gelato chef/owner Jessica Oloroso scooped floats with malted vanilla gelato and Goose Island root beer. Goose poured 312, Sofie, Matilda, Pere Jacques and Pepe Nero from portable draft coolers. Cutty Sark served old-school Scotch, while Intelligentsia brewed seasonal pour-over La Maravilla Itzamna Guatemala.

Our very own Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia spun Radio M world music and Mastered the ceremonies, including a food quiz by yours truly. How well do you know Chicago's diverse food? 

Question 1:
What is kitfo tere?

A: A pancake-like, soft, yeast-raised, sourdough flatbread made with teff flour, used as an eating utensil

B: Ethiopian steak tartare

C: Chicken and hard-cooked egg stew cooked in a spicy berbere sauce

D: A strong honey wine

Answer 1:
B: Ethiopian steak tartare.
Seasoned with niter kibbeh, a spiced clarified butter, and mitmita, a powdered chili pepper spice mix, kitfo tere is considered one of the national dishes of Ethiopia. At Ras Dashen, you can also order your kifto rare instead of raw by requesting kitfo leb leb.

A is injera, C is doro wat and D is tej.

Question 2:
Which of the following is not on the phở menu at Tank?

A: Bible tripe

B: Udder

C: Cow’s penis

D: Soft tendon

Answer 2:
B: Udder.
Their phở is also served with a fresh garnish plate including lime, bean sprouts, culantro, Thai basil, and jalapeño slices. Classic condiments include Sriracha and hoisin sauces.

Question 3:
Which athlete and sport popularized pierogi as a sports food?

A: Tomasz Majewski, the Polish shot-putter who won a gold medal at this year’s London Olympics.

B: Paula Newby-Fraser, the Ironman triathlete and duathlete for the 1989 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.

C: Adrian Zieliński, the Polish weightlifter who won a gold medal at this year’s London Olympics.

D: Halina Konopacka, the Polish women’s discus thrower who won Poland’s first gold medal ever at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Answer 3:
B: Paula Newby-Fraser, the Ironman triathlete and duathlete for the 1989 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
Newby-Fraser ate pierogi to carbo-load for the biking portion of the triathlon. Mrs. T's, the largest American pierogi manufacturer, sponsored triathlons, as well as the Chicago Marathon, starting in 1986. At Staropolska, pierogi are available stuffed with potato and curt (a dry cottage cheese), sauerkraut, spinach, sweet cheese, strawberry, or blueberry.

Question 4:
We know that a jibarito sandwich is made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread, spread with garlic and mayo, then filled with meat, American cheese, lettuce and tomato. But what’s a jibarita?

A: A green banana and yucca fritter, filled with ground beef

B: A jibarito, but with platanos maduros, or ripe, sweet plantains

C: Mortar and pestle mashed fried plantains, pork, and garlic

D: A sliced, twice-fried green plantain, pounded flat between fryings

Answer 4:
B: A jibarito, but with platanos maduros, or ripe, sweet plantains.
It’s widely believed that Juan "Peter" Figueroa invented the jibarito at the original Borinquen on California in Humboldt Park in 1996. The jibarita is an off-the-menu item.

A is alcapurria, C is mofongo and D is tostone.

Question 5:
Which of these is or was a real product?

A: Tan Pups

B: Wheatmeat

C: Tofurky

D: All of the above

Answer 5:
D: All of the above.
Tan Pups were invented in 1972 and Wheatmeat in 1974, both made of seitan. The word seitan, the western name for wheat gluten, is believed to be derived from the Japanese words sei, meaning "made of," and tan, meaning “protein.” The original Tofurky, a portmanteau of tofu and turkey, was invented 1995, made of soybeans. At Munch, they serve a vegan “beefy” tostada, made with chorizo seitan.

Question 6:
What is a Chicago-style mother-in-law?

A: Shrimp baked under garlicky bread crumbs

B: A Chicago-style corn roll tamale, smothered with chili, served in a hot dog bun or a cup, with optional chopped white onion and sport peppers

C: Bone-in chicken baked with potato wedges, garlic, olive oil, and white wine

D: An ice cream cone layered, from top to bottom, with orange sherbet, pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry, and chocolate

Answer 6:
B: A Chicago-style corn roll tamale, smothered with chili, served in a hot dog bun or a cup, with optional chopped white onion and sport peppers.
There’s also a variant called a Mighty Dog, comprised of a mother-in-law with a fully dressed Chicago-style hot dog and cheese. Chicago scientist turned self-described “Investigator of Southside Culinary Oddities” Peter Engler was the first to publish his studies of these Southside hot dog stand staples in 2005. (Engler is a friend and he attended Chef Battle.)

A is Shrimp DeJonghe, C is Chicken Vesuvio and D is an Original Rainbow Cone; the last day you can get one this year is November 4.