Top Chef Showdown in Aspen

June 22 2009, 8:29 AM
The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen wrapped up yesterday with a fitting finale: Top Chef winners Stephanie Izard (Season 4) and Boulder's own Hosea Rosenberg (Season 5) battled it out with one last quick-fire. The challenge: Prepare--using leftovers, a stocked pantry, and dairy products--a breakfast of champions for judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin, and Todd Jaffey, who paid $15,000 (benefiting KitchenAid's Cook for a Cure) for a spot at the judge's table. The Top Chefs drew knives for their famous sous chefs--Ming Tsai and Jacques Pépin--and then cooked for 25 harried minutes. Final dishes included Izard and Tsai's leftover pizza topped with lobster, bacon, and a fried egg, and Rosenberg and Pépin's smoked trout mousse, wild mushroom tartlet, and fried green tomato with lobster and coral butter. In the end, team Rosenberg took the title. Great food aside, I suspect that his pomegranate, fresh melon, and Grey Goose vodka martini swirled with a Gummi Bear swayed head judge Colicchio, who has an alleged weakness for the candy. While Rosenberg's dominance continues, I can't stop thinking about the recipe for bacon popcorn that Izard shared with me on Saturday afternoon: Cook bacon, pop kernels Jiffy Pop-style in renderings, and garnish with finely chopped bacon. Um, yeah, that's popcorn Top Chef-style.