This past weekend, the cast of Food Network’s Chopped gave us a lesson on perfecting brunch. At New York City's Wine and Food Festival, chefs came prepared to serve their brunch samples to the guests.In addition, guests could sample different Bloody Mary cocktails from varying distilleries to determine who made the best Bloody Mary.
After tasting every Bloody Mary offered, I determined that the best one was Twenty Grand Vodka’s Sichuan Mala Mary. This beverage combined Twenty Grand Peach Vodka infused with Cognac, tomato juice, cucumber juice, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and Sichuan pepper powder to create the perfect Bloody Mary. The drink offers just enough heat and avoids being overly powerful. The shichimi togarashi-spiced rim added an extra fiery flavor to every sip of this delicious drink. It was clear that this Bloody Mary was taking the prize when the table was swarmed by guests wanting to sample it.
The sample dishes were prepared by various chefs and far exceeded my expectations. Between the chicken and herbed waffles from Philip Demaiolo to the shrimp and grits from Lev Gewirtzman to the pea pancakes with herbed yogurt and candied bacon from Georgia Pellegrini, tasting the food made me feel as if I was a judge on Chopped.
Chef Pellegrini, author of multiple culinary books, says the key to a great brunch is in the fresh flavors.
“Use pure and simple ingredients that speak for themselves,” Pellegrini explains.
The ingredients displayed at the Bloody Mary Brunch certainly speak for themselves by putting fun spins on classic brunch dishes, like Melba Wilson’s mini eggnog waffles. Take some tips from these great chefs and use them to spice up things at your next brunch!