I had so much fun meeting the contestants and tasting their hot dogs. Each had a completely different approach, but all had delicious results! I asked each contestant about the inspiration for their recipes. I was really impressed by how much the condiment recipes reflected on each student’s own background, influences, and interests.
So without further ado, let’s meet the contestants.
Jaime Herrera, a level 5 culinary student, took the classic condiment of aïoli up a notch by incorporating spicy chipotles.
Bettina Will hails from Germany, the home of the frankfurter—the original hot dog. She is currently in the culinary level 2 class, and she created a fantastic lamb chili for her hot dog.
Chili has long been a popular hot dog topper, but this was no ordinary chili. Inspired by Syrian lamb kebabs, Bettina combined sour cherries and rich ground lamb meat with such spices common in Middle Eastern dishes as cumin and cinnamon. Packed with flavor, this dark meaty chili satisfied my taste for sweet, sour, and spicy all in one.
Mary Luz Herras, a level 6 student, reinvented a popular Ecuadorian hot dog.
According to Mary Luz, hot dogs are typically topped with pineapples and salty potato chips in her native Ecuador. I loved her creative twist of flavors by making a pineapple-chile pepper marmalade topped with fried tomato skins.
The marmalade was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and the fried tomato skins added an unexpected salty element with a crispy texture reminiscent of potato chips. This refreshing condiment not only brought the flavors of Ecuador to the table, but also utilized tomato skins that would normally be wasted.
Level 2 student, Francine Lee, created a hot dog like none I’ve ever seen. Francine loves to eat the traditional English breakfast, which is comprised of fried eggs, bacon, grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and baked beans. As a result, the breakfast hot dog was born. Topped with baked bean puree and a small amount of each key ingredient in the English breakfast, Francine’s hot dog was a beautiful sight.
Last, but certainly not least, level 3 student Marite Acosta created something really special with her farm stand relish.
Using all local produce harvested mostly from her own backyard on Long Island, Marite’s relish was a perfect example of cooking seasonally and close to home. Her pickled relish included fresh jalapeņo peppers, okra, radishes, sweet baby bell peppers, and persian cucumbers. Marite was inspired by the Chicago-style hot dog, which is often topped with sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spears, and pickled sport peppers. One bite rendered a full flavored and wonderfully textured hot dog.
The competition truly was a tough one with such different and delicious condiments to choose from. In the end, the judges chose Marite Acosta’s farm stand relish as the winner! Her prize is a spot in FCI’s coveted charcuterie class! Congratulations Marite!
Many thanks to all the contestants for their hard work and excellent products! I was pleasantly stuffed after enjoying all five unique and incredible hot dogs!
Melissa McAllister is a Classic Culinary Arts student graduating in February 2012. She hopes to pursue a career in food journalism or test kitchens. Her favorite way to eat a hot dog is smothered in ketchup at a baseball game with her Dad.