Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hot Dog Contest. Judge Profile: Lauren Braun Costello

Lauren Braun Costello returns to the Concours de Chien-Chaud for the second year in a row to judge the condiment contest. A graduate of The FCI, Lauren ('03) is known as The Competent Cook. She has written two books and has been involved in all aspects of the food industry—catering, teaching, cooking classes, food styling, etc. She admits that she is a big fan of eating competitions and enjoys watching heavyweights such as Kobayashi dominate in contests on TV. If given an opportunity to participate in one of The FCI’s three contests (hot dog eating, condiment creation, or mixology), she says she would go for the condiment contest. “I would choose the condiment contest in a heartbeat! I’d love to do a tomato-mustard seed chutney with onions—marmalade of sorts.” Sounds delicious!

Costello shares an early memory of eating hot dogs on a family ski vacation to Colorado. “I was about five or six, and they gave us hot dogs every day for lunch at ski school! On about the fourth day, I got sick (they weren’t kosher). Now I only eat kosher hot dogs, and I love them!”

Nowadays, Costello mostly eats hot dogs in the summer at barbecues. She also loves a good “kosher special” at a deli (thick Knackwurst with baked beans). This hot dog connoisseur has a very specific way of preparing her hot dogs. “I always spiral cut my hot dogs and boil them in water before putting them on the grill. This makes them a lot more tender and gives them more surface area to be charred. I use celery salt (this is the very best thing in the world!) to give the dog a great edge!” And for condiments? "Fox Mustard is my favorite brand; it's really sweet, and savory."

Aside from hot dogs, Lauren loves to eat dumplings and a variety of canap├ęs. ("I could eat hors d’oeuvres all the time!") When asked to come up with a gourmet meal involving a hot dog, she answered that a hot dog can be a gourmet meal on it’s own! "I think the notion that a hot dog is lowbrow food is outdated! Daniel Boulud’s hot dog at DBGB is the answer to that question."

Her prediction for the winning time this year? Two minutes and fifty-two seconds.

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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