On the third day of Star Chefs ICC we prepared noodles in one of the food carts. The pop-up venue focused the dish. Our task was preparing noodles. We created two flavors, cricket and corn and black lime cresta de gallo. The two played off each other as both flavors and ideas. The rich earthiness of the cricket flour was complemented by the nutty toasted notes of the corn and heady acidic notes of the black lime The corn and cricket combination was sparked by the numerous applications of corn and crickets in Mexican cooking. For our sauce we made a spiced pork and kimchi sugo. We got most of the heat from the spicy pickled cabbage and highlighted it with a healthy dose of Luchito, a smokey spiced chili paste. To finish the the dish we smoked cricket flour and rubbed it on the outside of some aged gruyere cheese. We vacuum sealed the flour coated cheese to expedite the flavor transfer and to allow the flour to adhere to the cheese. We grated the smokey, nutty, earthy cheese over the noodles. To add some brightness and herbal notes, we made a quick salad of basil and cilantro tossed with smoked olive oil and spiced worm salt that our friend Steve Santana secured for us.
The success of the dish in this space was reliant on a bit of structure: our basic dish, the pasta and sauce. and a lot of freedom to explore new ingredients that we found at the conference. We left things open so we could incorporate delicious discoveries and the unplanned elements of our dish allowed it to become more mouthwatering, unique, and inspired. If we had brought everything we thought we needed, we would not have discovered and been excited to work with ingredients and ideas we had not planned. Because we left elements to chance, we were receptive to, or even forced to, discover and refine new ideas in the moment to deliver delicious.