Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hot Dog Contest. Judge Profile: Johnny Iuzzini

As executive pastry chef at Jean Georges, in New York City, Johnny Iuzzini knows desserts inside and out. But at this year's Concours de Chien-Chaud, Iuzzini's savory taste buds will be put to the test as he judges the condiment portion of the competition.

Even though he spends most of his time dealing with sweets, Iuzzini also enjoys cooking other parts of a meal. "I'm an Italian kid, so I love fresh pasta. I love to make my own pasta and roll it out…. I like really simple preparations, maybe with fresh vegetables or ricotta cheese." When asked how he might incorporate hot dogs into a dish at the restaurant, he responded (with remarkable promptness!), "I'd probably try to make something with the essence of the flavor combinations—take a hot dog [with some] ketchup and mustard, puree them in a Pacojet, and make an ice cream. I'd soak buns in milk and make a bun ice cream, then swirl the two flavors together."

As for his own hot dog history, Iuizzini's first memories of eating frankfurters come from his childhood growing up in the Catskills, in New York. ("We were always barbecuing, and my dad was always grilling.") He doesn't eat them as regularly now, but when he does, he prefers a variety from Salumeria Biellese. His favorite accompaniments? "I'm a ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut guy."

Iuzzini remembers going to Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York, when he was younger, and he was also a judge at last year's Concours de Chien-Chaud. With all his experience watching contests, his advice for this year's contestants is to focus on "breathing and rhythm." He has high hopes for the eaters and expects to see some record-breaking times!

Sarah Johnson graduated from the Classic Culinary Arts Program in May. She hopes to work as a writer in the food industry. Her favorite condiment with hot dogs is Grey Poupon!

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