This past weekend, AIDS-fighting organization (RED) took over Smorgasburg as part of its EAT (RED). DRINK (RED). SAVE LIVES campaign, bringing delicious (RED) inspired dishes to the masses. Many vendors created special (RED) menu items and donated the proceeds to the cause; some used the color for inspiration, like Kelvin Natural Slush Company’s bright Raspberry (RED) Slush, and others used more subtle red ingredients, like El Super’s red snapper ceviche tostada with beets, walnuts, and horseradish crema.
On Sunday, those dishes — 30 of them — went head to head in competition, which was judged by Dominique Ansel and Mario Batali.
“We are looking for taste titillation and texture tease, overall eyeball appeal and eating irresistibility, and, most significantly, is it (RED)iculously good?” explained Batali. When asked if he had any strategy for determining a winner, Ansel smiled and said, “Swallowing the food.”
Thirty plates and 45 minutes later, Ansel and Batali announced their three favorite dishes. In third place was The French Bruffin, a flaky brioche/muffin hybrid filled with lardons, brie, and gruyere, with a truffled (RED) beet salad. As the creator of the original hybrid pastry, Cronut inventor Ansel appreciated the light texture and balance of flavors in this dish.
Second place was awarded to Schnitz for its sweet (RED) onion sandwich, a chicken schnitzel with roasted beet tzatziki and pickled red cabbage, jicama, cilantro, and radish on a pretzel bun. Schnitz recently opened a storefront in the East Village (177 First Avenue, 646-861-3923), where you can get this sandwich seven days a week.
First place went to Chef Neil Syham of Lumpia Shack for his (RED) truffle adobo mushroom lumpia with three types of mushrooms, braised soy vinegar, truffled aioli, and pickled chili. You can find more varities of lumpia, a Filipino version of the Chinese spring roll, at Syham’s first brick and mortar location, Lumpia Shack Snackbar (50 Greenwich Avenue, 917-475-1621).
Along with the title of Best (RED) Dish, Syham also won a cooking class with Batali and the privilege of taking a cookie shot with Ansel and Batali on the spot.
This event drew a crowd, capping off what Batali said has been a successful effort. “One in three customers at my restaurants has been ordering at least a dish or a drink from the (RED) menu,” he told us. Today is the last day you can participate in the EAT (RED). DRINK (RED). SAVE LIVES campaign, which began June 1 — just head to one of 500 participating restaurants and order the (RED) dish.