The stakes were high and the flavors were rich on Monday, August 28th, at the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo in Los Angeles, where over 8,000 of the most dynamic restaurant and foodservice pros gather every year. The three competing chefs (culled from an original fourteen) brought their A game to the live, rapid fire challenge. Here’s a little bit about them and their sandwiches:
- Chef Paul Cao of Burnt Crumbs: Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich
- fried chicken sandwich with mashed potatoes, country gravy, honey-sriracha sauce, all inside a homemade biscuit
- Chef Steven Agosto of Kelsey’s in Pechanga Resort and Casino: Smoked Lechon Pork Sandwich
- slow-cooked lechon pork with black forest ham, pickle relish, mustard, and chimichurri
- Chef Max Schlutz of Sessions West Coast Deli: Summer Zephyr
- fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil aioli, balsamic vinegar, pickled onion, and arugula
Each chef came to Center Stage to prepare their sandwiches live in front of the judges and audience, walking through each step, then serving it to the judges. The audience members were also served a portion of each of the three sandwiches. The people to impress were were Celebrity Top Chefs Brian Huskey, Shirley Chung and Katsuji Tanabe. Through witty banter and deliberation, the decided winner was Chef Paul Cao with his Southern Fried Chicken sandwich. Cao went home with the $1000 prize in addition to endless bragging rights.
Chef Paul Cao brought nostalgia and rich flavors to the judges. Cao’s culinary experience began in college where he would often cook for his roommates. His unique endeavors eventually lead to establishing The Burnt Truck. Burnt Crumbs is now the brick-and-mortar version with locations in Huntington Beach and Irvine.
Nothing says comfort food more than fried chicken and biscuits. Cao’s winning Southern Fried Chicken sandwich was inspired by the last bite of a fried chicken meal when the last bit of gravy is soaked up by a buttery biscuit and eaten with the chicken. Judges were impressed by his in-house made ingredients, especially the biscuits. At his restaurant, biscuits are made daily, sometimes twice a day, to accommodate for all the fans of his famous sandwich.
Try the award-winning sandwich at Burnt Crumbs today!