I love this photo. It was such a fun time — judging a cooking event here in Connecticut recently. Let me back up for a sec.
Back in July, I was invited by the National Mango Board to be one of the judges of a fun cook-off between two chefs when their Mango Hometown Tour came to Hartford, Connecticut, on August 26.
After I peeled myself off the floor in shock (there’s a National Mango Board? They want me to be a judge?) I agreed to do it. I mean, of course I did. The whole idea of tasting incredible foods from two of Hartford’s finest chefs was too good to pass up. And the fact that I love mangoes helped a lot too.
The event pitted Chef Chris Torla of Trumbull Kitchen (left) and Chef Billy Grant of Grant’s (right) in a Battle Mango. Ok, ok. It’s not Iron Chef. But it was a really fun and interesting thing to see what each of them came up with.
Billy Grant’s dish was served first: a mango barbecue braised beef short rib with a crispy onion ring and mango garnish. It was heavenly … the tender, fall-apart short rib was braised for about three and a half hours. I loved the way the mango added a tangy sweetness to the dish too. And the onion ring – Grant’s father’s recipe – was too good to stop at a polite bite.
Chris Torla did a trio of mango recipes: a mango lassi, a mango fondue tartlet and an OMG-pork belly slider topped with a mango slaw. It was my first introduction to pork belly (well, aside from its cured brother bacon), and it was an awesome one — the kind that leaves you craving more and wanting to swipe someone else’s portion (not that I would ever do that. Ever. Really). The fondue was really memorable too.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the event ended in a tie.
Mango Recipes from the Archives