What do chocolate pudding turkey sandwiches and candy cane-crusted lamb chops have in common? Each of these unconventional recipes recently earned a win on Food Network's "Rewrapped" for a Connecticut chef.
Over the past two weeks, Neil Fuentes of Branford's Jojoto and Roberto Tschudin Lucheme of Tschudin Chocolates & Confections in Middletown emerged victorious on their respective episodes of the competition show hosted by Joey Fatone. Chefs "use their talents to recreate and innovate America's most beloved snacks," according to the show's website.
During the first round, the chefs are asked to recreate the original food item from scratch, and then they're tasked with using that snack food in an original dish. Past snacks featured on the show include Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, Chef Boyardee beef ravioli, candy corn and Lay's potato chips.
On the Dec. 6 episode, after remaking Swiss Miss Triple Chocolate Dream Pudding, Fuentes and competitor Chris Sell of The Chip Shop in Brooklyn had to get creative with their next dishes. Inspired by his Venezuelan mother's recipe for "black chicken" with brown sugar, Fuentes braised turkey in the pudding and sofrito and piled the meat onto a brioche roll with Swiss Miss coleslaw. On the side, he served yucca croquettes with a honey and Swiss Miss drizzle.
Sell's effort at chocolate pudding-marinated venison with cranberry sauce and Brussels sprout-potato hash wasn't as successful, and Fuentes earned the higher "Innovate" score from three judges. The charming "Singing Chef," known as much for his musical talent as his culinary prowess, danced and shimmied during the closing credits. "This win is not just for me, it’s for my mom," he said.
On Dec. 13's episode, Tschudin Lucheme displayed his sugar skills by recreating a Hammond's candy cane, then crushing the peppermint candies to flavor lamb chops. His dish also featured a seared scallop plated atop candy cane simple syrup, and toasted chocolate couscous on the side. Though the judges appeared to like competitor Davie Olson's candy-curried peppermint tofu with peppermint coconut rice and peppermint chai tea, Tschudin Lucheme scored 24 "Innovate" points to Olson's 23 and was declared the winner.
"Winning feels great. I've got a year's supply of candy canes, plus the whole world of sugar has opened up. What a great holiday present this has been," he said.
The Food Network has seen plenty of Connecticut representation this year, with chefs Tyler Anderson of Millwright's and Rob Maffucci of Vito's each appearing on the "Beat Bobby Flay" competition show for a chance to battle the Iron Chef.