Culinary Fight Club: Sushiritto The Pair Up in San Diego, California

On August 28, 2016, Culinary Fight Club proposed another challenge for three chefs to make a sushiritto paired with libation. Sushi On A Roll lent its perfect sushi bar in-the-round for the event, kitchen stadium-style.

Chef Ben Diaz, from CBD Cuisine, along with his team.

Chef Joe Cotillon, from Tony Gwynn’s Sports Pub, along with his team.

Chef Anthony Pascale, from Saiko Sake & Sushi Bar, along with his team.

Chef Keoni Simmons portioned out the sashimi-grade ahi tuna for the competitors.

The pantry was stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, Nolet’s Dry Gin, juices, and seafood. The chefs had 45 seconds to shop in the pantry but were allowed to tag one of their teammates for one extra set of shopping hands. Each chef was also allowed to bring three secret ingredients of their choice.

Ready, set, cook! The 60-minute clock started as the chefs started preparing their dishes. One of Chef Ben’s teammates started prepping mango.

Chef Joe’s teammate started chopping up the ahi tuna.

Chef Joe started chopping up vegetables.

Chef Ben and his teammate do a quality check on flavor.

Chef Anthony’s teammate is preparing a fruit salsa of sorts for the sushiritto.

Chef Ben starts making the sushi rolls by laying down rice on top of the nori.

Chef Ben presented a complementary pair of sushirritos: One was made with salmon, mint, sake, lemon, pineapple, salt, pepper and rice made with juniper berries, bay leaves, and cardamom atop bed of avocado chutney with pickled onions and mango. The green sauce in the middle was made with tobiko and avocado cream. The other sushiritto was made with ahi poke with sriracha sauce, citrus, and smoke. A side of mushroom kimchi was also presented. This dish was paired with a rum mojito made with pineapple, lime, basil, mint, Papa’s Pilar Rum, and smoke. Judge’s notes:  The sushirittos had good flavor, but contestants should stick to one type when presenting. You’re taking the chance that one of them will not work and your score is based on the entire dish presented. Also, the sushi rolling technique needs improvement as the rolls fell apart when eaten. The mushroom kimchi was spicy yet fantastic. I would love that with some K-BBQ! Unfortunately, the cocktail did not pair well. The flavors were too light and sushiritto flavors took over as well as the kimchi. EAT Score: 9/9/8

Chef Joe presented a sushiritto made with spicy langostino marinated with sriracha, masago, and Japanese mayo, togarashi marinated ahi tuna and salmon, yuzu pickled carrot, mango, cucumber, and mint relish accompanied by sesame, shoyu, yuzu, and cucumber dipping sauce. This dish was paired with a watermelon cooler made with Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior Sake, thai basil, watermelon, yuzu, and apple juice. Judge’s notes: The sushiritto flavor was very neutral. There was too much mayo with the langostino and the dish needed to lower the acidity level as to not overpower the natural sweetness of the raw fish. The sushi roll technique needs improvement as the rolls fell apart when eaten. Unfortunately, the cocktail did not pair well as it was too mellow and the taste faded immediately against the rice and mayo. EAT Score: 9/9/7

Chef Anthony presented a sushiritto made with big eye tuna, farm-raised salmon, pineapple & peach salsa, fresh pineapple, and cilantro with a gochujang pineapple reduction. This dish was paired with a sake sangria made with Setting Sun Brewing Co. sake, gochujang, muddled cucumber, and lime juice, with fresh chunks of cucumber, pineapple, and apple. Even though pineapple is not an ingredient usually found in sushi, it worked. This sushiritto had a Latin-Japanese fusion which worked nicely. The sushi roll technique was perfectly tight and held together well while eating. The tuna and salmon were flavor forward with refreshing flavors from the pineapple and cilantro. The cocktail also paired well playing on the pineapple used inside of the sushiritto and the flavor profile complemented the fish while not overpowering. EAT Score: 10/8/9

The judges panel included: Chelsea Madren (aka OC Food Diva), Tommy Gomes (Catalina Offshore Products), Edwin Real (Eat, Drink San Diego), and special guest judge, Chef Sumo Sato.

And the winner is… Chef Anthony Pascale. He won the Culinary Fight Club trophy, a Culinary Fight Club chef’s coat, a bottle of Nolet’s Dry Gin, and a Golden Ticket to compete at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, AL.

Chef Joe Cotillon took the People’s Choice vote and won a Culinary Fight Club apron and a bottle of Nolet’s Dry Gin.

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