Each cook makes a starter and an entree. This dish, described as a Filipino version of ceviche, was served by Carl Yum.
Whispers, quiet gasps and emphatic nods of agreement rippled down the family-style table inside Echo Park’s the Park restaurant one recent Saturday, as a panel of judges took turns critiquing the dishes of three young cooks. The ceviche starter was too warm, one judge said. Another critiqued the method in which Parmesan had been grated on what he determined to be undercooked pasta.
“You’re doing a disservice to that grain,” one judge said, regarding a chef’s distribution of farro.
In this recurring event that bears similarities to Food Network’s wildly popular Chopped, this live-action cooking competition is intended to showcase the talents of L.A.’s unsung kitchen heroes: the line cooks. While head chefs typically reap the credit or the criticism for their restaurant’s food, it is the line cooks putting in the day-to-day dirty work behind the scenes. The Top of the Line Cooking Competition at the Park gives three line cooks the chance to create both a starter and an entree of their own devising, which are then judged by chefs and food writers from the L.A. area.
“This is an opportunity for people who are working for other chefs, who are talented, to put themselves forward. And see what happens,” said Josh Siegel, owner of the Park and creator of the competition.
Three judges sample six dishes, sharing their critiques with the audience between courses.
Now in its second season, Top of the Line unfolds once a month when Siegel — with the help of the Park’s part-owner Ruth Kim…
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