Final Cut: Native hosts showdown for spot on menu
Have you ever wondered how big restaurants research and add new menu items? As someone who doesn’t do a lot of cooking myself, I have always wondered how these things happen and I was able to get a really fun sneak peek at the process, recently.
Native Grill & Wings recently held a competition of sorts with their employees, encouraging them to submit new recipes based on ingredients that could be found in their kitchens. They opened up the competition to sandwiches and cocktails and all of the imagination their employees could muster. While they received many submissions, the executive team had the difficult decision of whittling the options down to three sandwich options and three drink options. At that point, they invited the creators of those recipes to come to the corporate headquarters to create their dishes and have a panel of media members to decide their favorites.
My job does not suck!
One of my favorite parts of the evening was walking into all of the great energy of the test kitchen. There were people everywhere and in all corners of the kitchen; heads down focused on their dishes and a lot of camaraderie between the team members. The submission came from three Arizona locations and two from Missoula, Montana (which had just opened up a week before the competition).
So what were we judging?
Here’s the Final Cut Burger Breakdown:
Barn Burner Burger| pepper jack cheese/ bacon/ jalapenos/ hot sauce/ lettuce/ tomato/ onion/ pickle/brioche bun
Southwest Chicken Stack (winner)| chicken strips/ white onion/ anaheim pepper/ pepper jack cheese/ ancho chili lime dry rub/ honey chipotle sauce/ avocado/ ciabatta bun
The Phoenix| chicken breast/ phoenix sauce/ pepper jack cheese/ banana peppers/ jalapenos/ lettuce/ tomato/ onion/ pickle/ brioche bun
I was a huge fan of The Phoenix. I loved that the chicken breast could come either grilled or breaded and fried. The Phoenix Sauce was unbelievable; it was perfect on the sandwich, great on fries and even tasted amazing on our carrots and celery. I would have loved to have been able to take a bottle of it home and put it on pretty much anything. The Phoenix was the perfect name for this sandwich because it had a heat that rose from bite to bite.
There were some smart guys in the kitchen because the creator of the Barn Burner opted to put the pepper jack cheese on top of the bacon, ensuring that the perfectly grilled strips didn’t slide around and fall of the burger. The heat of the freshly grilled burger melted the cheese right onto the bacon, ensuring that each bite you took had a little bit of bacon heaven.
The Southwest Chicken Stack was the named the winner by the Executive team along with the judges input. There were some nice elements of heat incorporated into the sandwich and the cool, creamy avocado helped to temper that just enough.
The Final Cut Booze Breakdown:
The Americano (winner)| tequila/ blue curacao/ grand marnier/ cranberry juice/ sprite
Queen of Drinks| vodka/ peach schnapps/ amaretto/ southern comfort/ orange juice/ pineapple juice/ grenadine
Suh Dude Shot| crown apple/ fireball
The Americano was created as an alternative to the margarita, and was tasty enough to take the win. The mixologist responsible for creating this drink said that she was looking for a similar flavor with the exclusion of sweet and sour. She nailed it!
My personal favorite was the Suh Dude Shot, perhaps because of my affinity for drinks with a little in-your-face kick. The combination of apple and cinnamon were made for each other and I was sad to see that it didn’t make the Final Cut. I will, be making sure to ask for it the next time I make it to the Gilbert location, where the drink originated.
All in all, it was a great night and I was honored to be included among the judging panel.
What sandwich and drink look the best to you?
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© Taryn Jeffries 2016