09/23/15 9:56am

Wendy's BBQ saucemaster laughs at your desire to know his secret.

Yesterday afternoon I was doing some virtual trail running in the gym when the above commercial for Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich came on. Even with the sound down I got the joke. When asked to divulge the recipe for his “secret sauce” the presumably Southern pitmaster and his assistant refuse to give up the goods laughing off the request.

The subsequent glamour shots of “our hickory smoked pulled pork” and a BBQ poutine of sorts looked so good that I couldn’t get them out of my head. I envisioned Wendy’s very own sauce bespattered, real deal pitmaster whipping up this pulled pork, a veritable Ed Mitchell of fast food. As a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge who’s been around BBQ pits and smokers of various and sundry sizes and configurations, including a stainless steel number whose firebox resembles a miniature bank vault, I know  this is nonsense. But Wendy’s and its ad agency are selling a fantasy, one that I clearly bought into as evidenced by my choice of a late night dinner. (more…)

06/10/15 9:04am

It’s been said that the breakfast sandwich is a New York City invention. My favorite is the classic bacon egg and cheese recently extolled by Pete Wells in the Times. Alvin Cailan the chef behind Eggslut in L.A. takes a nontraditional approach for his ultimate breakfast sandwich.

“I always have Hawaiian sweet rolls, it’s like a law if you’re Filipino,” the chef says as he prepares to make his sandwich. Another Filipino favorite that makes its way into Cailan’s sandwich is Spam. “If you eat Cheetos and all that shit you might as well eat Spam too,” Cailan says. Sriracha mayo also figures in his creation.

At one point in the video Cailan whips out a gold switchblade to cut the rolls in half. I’m pretty sure you can make his sandwich with any old knife though. So what’s your favorite breakfast sandwich?

04/06/15 9:52am
SRIRACHACUPCAKE

“Sriracha chocolate cake!!??”

“Sriracha chocolate cake?” I muttered quizzically as I browsed the cupcake selection at Silk Cakes. “It’s a Southeast Asian . . .” the gal behind the counter stopped mid-sentence as I interrupted to tell her that I had indeed heard of the ubiquitous “rooster sauce.” My surprise stemmed from seeing the hot sauce namechecked at an upscale bakery instead of a pho joint or hipster sandwich shop. (more…)

12/11/13 1:16pm
SUBWAY3

The King of Hot Sauce is Dead! Long Live the King of Hot Sauce!

In this year of Cronuts, Ramenburgers, and other trendy Frankenfoods it’s easy to lose sight of one major story: the death of Sriracha. That’s right Rooster Sauce as some call the concoction of red hot jalapeños, garlic, and vinegar is over. Grab a seat at your favorite pho joint, cover your eyes, and stick a fork in the squeeze bottle because it’s just done. The demise of the fiery sauce that has had a place everywhere from cheap dumpling houses and Vietnamese joints to the kitchens of chefs like Michael Voltaggio and Jean-Georges Vongerichten occurred last month. And it had nothing to with the partial closure of the company’s plant in Irwindale, Calif., a few weeks ago. It started when Subway introduced a line of sandwiches using creamy Sriracha sauce. Some might argue that it began way before that with Lay’s Sriracha potato chips and Sriracha candy canes. I’ll leave such quibbling to those better versed in food trends. After all, today’s column is about a sandwich. And the sandwich in question is Subway’s Sriracha Chicken Melt. (more…)

11/20/13 10:45am
CHICKBAO

Nothing quite exceeds like excess.

Ever since I saw the ad for Subway’s Sriracha Chicken melt sandwich I’ve been strangely fascinated by it. I had every intention of covering it for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, but couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. That’s how I found myself in Flushing casting about for a sandwich idea and settled on trying the gua bao ($2.50), or Taiwanese pork belly sandwich from Taipei Hong, my secret Taiwanese fried chicken connection. And then it hit me. “Let me have a Number 1, spicy,” I said giving  the secret password for the off-menu fried chicken, “and a gua bao.” (more…)

11/14/13 10:47am
NATASHAPOG

Photo: Michael Rudin

Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has gone so far as to trademark the cuisine at Bear as New European, but after spending some time with her and her brother Sasha I can see whya a mutual friend characterizes it as “deeply personal.” It draws as much on her Ukrainian heritage and her Midwestern childhood as it does New york City itself. Pogrebinsky was kind enough to take time out out from her Long Island City kitchen to answer Seven Questions.

Talk to me about Chopped. What was it like?
I cooked in all three rounds, I got to dessert and the judges thought my Russian cookies and tea were not sweet enough.  Ironically I serve the exact same dessert at Bear and it sells out, so what do they know.  But I had a lot of fun being on the show and competing and representing not only New York city, but also Queens  and of course, Bear. People recognize me on the street and say, “You should’ve won.” People come from around the country to eat at Bear just because they saw me on the show.

Where did you learn to use chopsticks?
Nowhere. I still struggle.

What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow?
The old school way, roasted and spread on country toast. with a side of pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.

Where do you like to eat on your days off? What are some of your favorite spots in Queens?
On my one day off I like to bum on my couch mostly but if I do go out it’s for ethnic food, or something simple like really good tacos, I like El Ray on Astoria Blvd., I like to try different spots every time.  But mostly I like to either cook at home or go to a friend’s house and they cook. (more…)

04/18/13 9:45am
Spiciest crowd-sourced potato chip ever!

Spiciest crowd-sourced potato chip ever!

I suspect Lays Do Us A Flavor campaign potato chips are made with unicorn meat. For more than a month I have being scouring convenience store shelves searching in vain for the three flavor finalists: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. A few weeks ago I spied the Chicken & Waffles flavor at a convenience store, but didn’t buy them, partly because I wasn’t that hungry, but mostly because chicken and waffle chips don’t sound all that appealing. I had just about given up any hope of trying these crowd-sourced crisps, when I saw the Sriracha flavor in a Flushing convenience store. I immediately snatched up three packs for $1.50.

The first thing I noticed when I tore into them was that they seemed crunchier than normal Lays chips. The next thing I noticed was the distinctive chili and garlic flavor of Sriracha. I still prefer the chips from Lays Thailand that I tried a while back. Nevertheless I’m casting my vote for these spicy chips. I haven’t tried the other two flavors and I doubt that have chance to before this crowd-sourced potato chip campaign ends on May 4. So here’s what I’d like to know, have you tried Lays Sriracha potato chips yet? Moreover how do you feel about this most American of Asian hot sauces? And how do you pronounce it?  I have grown accustomed to pronouncing it shree-RATCH-AH. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.