Top Chef’ visits Collins College

By Annette Vitkievicz

Bravo’s “Top Chef” season two winner Ilan Hall cooked up
excitement on campus by hosting a demonstration and dinner last
Sunday at the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.

Although the 27-year-old New York native was classically trained
at the Culinary Institute of America, Hall said his cooking reality
show experience played a larger role in his culinary growth.

“‘Top Chef’ allowed me to travel over the past two and a half
years,” said Hall. “It was fun and helped my restaurant a lot.”

Hall said while he considers the Big Apple his home, he prefers
working in Los Angeles because of its creative atmosphere and ample
opportunities.

“I fell out of love with New York,” said Hall. “I feel like
there’s more room in L.A. for fun and innovative restaurants.”

Hall named his downtown Los Angeles restaurant “The Gorbals” for
his father’s hometown, a Glasgow neighborhood heavily populated by
immigrants.

“Some people don’t like it,” said Hall. “But I think it’s unique
because it stands out.”

The Scottish-Jewish restaurant’s menu blends casual food with
fine-dining elements. Hall said he strives to provide an upbeat and
balanced dining atmosphere by participating in all aspects of the
restaurant.

“I like open kitchens,” said Hall. “I want to be part of the
party.”

With a Scottish father and an Israeli mother, Hall demonstrated
his diverse cooking style by preparing non-kosher bacon-wrapped
matzoh balls, a crowd favorite despite its seemingly controversial
ingredients.

“It’s super sacrilegious, or as I like to say, sacri-licious,”
said Hall.

Elssa Estrada, a third-year architecture student, said she
enjoyed watching Hall’s cooking techniques in a live and intimate
environment.

“You see his personality when he interacts with food,” said
Estrada.

Hall showcased his outgoing personality through both the food he
cooks and chooses to eat. When asked about his ideal last meal,
Hall’s choices matched his preference for unordinary pairings.

“I’d want perfect french fries, five strips of bacon and
H_Òå_agen-Dazs vanilla ice cream,” said Hall.

During dinner, the food’s strong flavors paralleled Hall’s bold
personality.

To begin, Collins College students served Hall’s crispy fried
broccoli garnished with soy sauce, vinegar and chilies paired with
buttered broccoli hearts.

Next, diners enjoyed succulent lamb breast served with hummus
and grilled lemon. Sticky toffee pudding with plums, caramel sauce
and vanilla ice cream provided a sweet ending to the service.

Hall said he enjoys using unusual ingredients, such as oxtail
and bone marrow, in order to provide diversity to his dishes.

United Culinarians Secretary Lizi Freeman, a second-year hotel
and restaurant management student with a focus on culinary arts,
holds an externship with Hall and was the backbone of the
student-run event.

“I came up with the proposed menu,” said Freeman. “His hummus
was the best I ever had.”

Freeman said working with Hall gave her a taste of the
professional cooking world and useful culinary tips.

“Don’t be afraid to try things,” said Freeman. “And chop lettuce
fast.”

Lisa McPheron, director of communications and external relations
for the Collins College of Hospitality Management, said she was
most impressed with the students’ dedication to the event.

“They put it together all on their own and truly learned by
doing,” said McPheron.

United Culinarians President Ray Bishop, a fourth-year hotel and
restaurant management student, said he enjoyed cooking in Hall’s
fun and lively atmosphere.

“It’s all jokes for 90 percent of the time,” said Bishop. “He
loves cooking and I admire his passion.”

Reach Annette Vitkievicz at: news@thepolypost.com

Top Chef

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Top Chef’ visits Collins College

Top Chef

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Top Chef’ visits Collins College

Top Chef

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Top Chef’ visits Collins College

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