Last month we launched a contest all about transformation: taking cheap, overripe, or leftover ingredients and turning them into something delicious. We asked you to send us pictures or videos that demonstrated your favorite transformative techniques—those game-changing ideas that take something sleazy and turn it into something sexy. And oh boy, did you show up. We got over a hundred submissions, each completely unique, covering topics from butchery to baking, sous vide to food sculpture. You showed us how leftover carrot tops could become bright, beautiful pesto; how a freshly-hunted wild boar could become honey-baked ham; how some foraged clams could transform into a fragrant chowder. And that’s just the beginning. We spent days reviewing gorgeous modern plates, mouth-watering braises, and homemade charcuterie. Needless to say, we were amazed by the creativity, skill, and enthusiasm with which you attacked this project.
After much deliberation, we came up with a list of five runners-up and one winner. Given all the amazing entries, it was truly difficult to narrow it down. To thank you all for your amazing efforts, we’re offering each participant a free ChefSteps class. (We’ll be in touch about that soon.) Already purchased them all? Have we mentioned we love you? You can give the free class away as a gift.
Without further ado, let’s get to the results.
These five entries were all in the running for the big win.
Bjorn Storm, San Diego, CA
Transforming a storebought rotisserie chicken
Dayna Palmer, Hyde, MD
Gold chocolate bars
“I tempered dark chocolate via the seeding method,” writes cocoa whisperer Dayna Palmer, “melting the bloomed chocolate to approximately 38 degrees C, then adding tempered chocolate ‘seeds’—for nucleation sites—and stirring until the chocolate reached about 30 to 32 C. Once it reached this temperature, I cast a shell of this dark chocolate using a polycarbonate mold that I had painted with gold cocoa butter! I deposited the tempered dark chocolate into the mold, tapped out air bubbles, then emptied the excess chocolate so that just a shell was left to be filled.”
The results speak for themselves. You can see more of Dayna’s work at her Etsy shop, called Chocolate Theory.
David Statman, Elmont, NY
Transforming mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce into soy candy
“What to do with leftover mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce?” asks transformer David Statman. “I first thought I would use it as a marinade to grill vegetables, but then inspiration struck and I knew what to do: Turn it into candy! I reduced the sauce on the stovetop and poured it onto a wannabe Silpat to cool and harden. These sweet and savory shards are quite potent, especially as the soy and ginger get more concentrated.”
So crafty! If we could reach into that picture and grab one of those treats, we’d be a happy crew.
Linas Zymantas, Chicago, IL
From oxtail to pho
Writes Zymantas: “I seared the oxtails and then added them to a stock pot with onion, carrot, daikon, ginger, and spices. I simmered the broth for about 12 hours until the oxtails were falling apart tender. The broth was seasoned appropriately, and the shredded oxtails went back into the super silky broth to make a delicious pho!”
Okay we’ll just admit it. The way to our hearts is oxtail pho. Forever. Every time.
Ryne Orechia, Kirkland, WA
Lamb shoulder dish
This Rainier Club cook gave his boss a shoutout, letting us know the chef there encourages creativity in the kitchen. And Orechia clearly takes advantage of the opportunity: he transformed tough lamb shoulder into a remarkable dish via the magic of sous vide. Watch him tell you how he did it in the video below, then check out his remarkable before and after.
Awesome, right? Now check out the pics.
And the winner is…
Teodosiy Teodosiev, Walnut Creek, CA
ChefSteps user Teodosiy Teodosiev stole the show with this incredible transformation featuring the slimy little fellas that populate gardens and sea rocks all over the world. Check out his stop motion video for the full contest-winning story.
Congratulations, Teo! We hope you enjoy that $500 worth of goodies that Grant plucked from the DeLaurenti shelves.
Ready to create your own amazing transformations? Sign up for Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics and discover incredible, easy techniques for making custards, carnitas for a crowd, Kung Pao ribs, and so much more.
Thanks, really appreciate your contest highlighting the creativity of chefs.
Wow, great stuff!
One note though. When making garden snails into dinner, let them graze on damp corn meal in a container, covered with screen, for a couple of days first to purge out whatever they were eating prior to capture.
Every idea is mind blowing how great to try all of these
Thanks I needed this !
umm…. Why is the lamb and winning dish the video of the three day chicken guy? and where is the oxtail pho recipe!! For the love of god I am starving to know!!
Wonderful video, great idea and perfect dish! Félicitations Teo!
Congrats! It’s very cool. 🙂
I don’t know how you picked a winner! All beautiful!
I’ve totally thought about harnessing wild garden snails and cooking them! I’ve seen bushes covered in them here in Seattle and fantasized about making an awesome (not to mention budget-friendly) meal with them. I’m sure sous vide would be great for it. Though I still haven’t convinced my girlfriend that eating wild snails is a good idea.
Is there a recipe to share for the oxtail broth for pho?