For our final food assignment, I was paired with Kallie McBride. We were told to create an awesome experience for the user that will be tasting our food in a final event. When we first started to think of what food we would make, we took a look at the event itself. We knew that people would be taking small bites of things and walking around, so we wanted our food to be self-contained, and using as little utelsils and waste as possible. We came up with a list of potential food containers:
- wonton/spring roll wrappers
- orange peel
- potato skins
- (way to use skins for one item and the potatoes for another!)
- on a stick
In one of our trial runs, we cored out an apple to see how good of a vessel it could be.
Although it could work, we figured that the guest wouldn't want to waste time trying to eat the rest of the apple, so we threw that idea out. We also tried making a vegetable stock on this first trial run day, but thought that the food vessel had to be thicker and more sturdy to accommodate the soup.
We decided that we would like to further pursue the ideas of a wonton wrapper, a cored out pepper, and potato skins.
We then had the opportunity to sketch out some story boards that entail the user interacting with our table. Our first idea included the user coming up to a bingo ball roller and drawing a colored ball. If the user chose 1 color, they would have to eat one of our options, and if they chose the other color, they would eat the other option.
The other storyboard we created gave the user the opportunity to choose which food item they would like to try, but this created a problem because we wouldn't know how much food to make for each option. We ruled out this option.
The feedback we received on these ideas included the fact that the user may want to try both food items, or they might have certain dietary restrictions (like being a vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc.).
So we began thinking more about the bingo ball roller and how that could relate to the experience. Kallie and I thought about a possible game show idea, or possibly making the guest roll the balls and "win" a food item. When brainstorming with Barry and Art, we thought about how the guest would want to try all of the options we had. Kallie and I already decided that we wanted the food vessels to include a fried wanton wrapper and potato skin, so we thought that these could be made into different cultural food items. We all came up with the idea that we could have an "around the world" or theme to include these items, and a couple more.
Kallie and I thought of a list of different cultural food items to possibly try:
- The South
- BBQ pulled pork
- Apple Slaw
- Wonton Cup
- Pasta (Rigatoni, ravioli, shell, or other fillable pasta) - use wonton wrapper again
- sauce and cheese (maybe mushrooms or something?)
- pizza in a noodle
- lettuce wrap - use wonton again - pita slice
- tzatziki sauce
- pulled pork
- play on deviled egg
- mix something in with filling
- twist on a quesadilla
- lime, black bean, cheese, rice
- Spicy tator-tot hotdish
- different flavor
- rice curry
- bangers and mash
- baked beans
- chicken tikka
- soda bread
- pigs in a blanket
- sweet potato crust
- ice disk
- lemon/mint/lavender, etc
- simple syrup?
Thinking about what groceries we should buy, we tried to think of ways to use a lot of the ingredients multiple times in different dishes, in order to use up what we had. While at the store, Kallie thought that we should commit to a few ideas and choose foods that were more U.S. based.
We settled on buying pulled pork, coleslaw, apples, eggs, imitation crab, mini sweet peppers, potatoes, wonton wrappers, tomato paste, and mayonnaise.
On our practice day we created 5 dishes that could be possible contenders in our final event. Here are our first initial ideas:
Our overall concept was to put a spin on different American staples like deviled eggs, fried potatoes, and bbq pork.
We first started with the ice cubes. We mixed hot water with fresh squeezed lemons, chopped mint leaves, and sugar. We then poured the mixture to the top into ice cube molds.
We then started the deviled eggs. We wanted to make deviled eggs, but with a New England seafood twist, so we took the yolks out of the hard boiled eggs and make a crab mixture to put in them instead. We thought that cocktail sauce goes with crab, so we made a sauce out of tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar.
We tried making 2 different fillings with the cocktail sauce we made: one with the boiled egg yolks and one without. We liked the taste of the egg without the yolks. We then took the crab and homemade cocktail mixture and put them in the hard boiled eggs.
We then started to work on the pulled pork. We decided that fried wonton wrappers would work best for the pork, because they were hard enough to support the pork. We started pulling the pork apart and thought about what to add to the bbq sauce.
We thought that the bbq sauce could be sweeter, and added fresh red apple juice and sugar to the mix.
We then started to work on the slaw that would go on top. We thought that bringing in more apples in the coleslaw would accentuate the pork more, so we chopped up the apples we used in the sauce and added it to the slaw veggie mix.
The next step was making the dressing for the apple slaw. We made two different mixes: once with mayo, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper, and one with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper.
We decided that we liked the taste of both, but thought that mixing them together would be even better.
The next food item was the mini sweet peppers with fried potatoes and cheese on top. We originally thought that we could stuff the peppers with the potatoes, but thought that this would be way too much to eat for the guest. We baked a potato so we could use the insides for the pepper, and the skin for the other pulled pork dish. While frying the potatoes to put on top of the pepper, the pieces weren't staying together as well as we thought. We also thought that the potatoes needed to stick to the piece of pepper better, so we made a quick aioli out of the mayo we had to act as a sticking agent.
Our next dish was the fried potato skins. We took the skin from the potato that we baked and wanted to make a zesty mixture out of our pulled pork and tomato paste that we already had. We also mixed in some egg yolks from the hard boiled eggs, some dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
Kallie and I then presented the 5 dishes to the judges. Our critique on our practice run included:
- Making the ice cubes smaller and less bitter.
- The cocktail sauce mixed with crab in the eggs was way too extreme.
- Liked the pulled pork with the apple slaw (highlight of the dishes).
- Make the slaw and apple pieces smaller, to make it less awkward to eat.
- The mayo on the pepper with the potato wasn't working.
- The tomato, pork, yolk mixture was too weird.
- Finally, PRESENTATION is key here, so make the dishes look prettier.
After this initial practice run, we had to think of ways to make the dishes better. After thinking about how we could improve, we came up with new ideas to implement.
Making the inside of the deviled eggs without the tomato paste would make it less harsh tasting. Our new idea included mixing the crab with the egg yolk, mayo, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and a little bit of another seasoning.
We tried out 2 different fillings: one with Sriracha sauce and one with curry. We liked the taste of the Sriracha better, and thought that we could use the homemade cocktail sauce as a decorative touch.
We thought that we could use the dishes with the fried potato insides and skins and take them into a different direction by combining the elements of both. Kallie and I decided to use the insides of the potatoes to make mashed potatoes with garlic instead of frying them, frying the potato skins, and mixing in the sweet peppers with the mashed potatoes. We also cut the potato skins into circles using a cutter, so the presentation would be a lot nicer.
After the practice run, we prepped our new ideas the night before the event for 3 hours. We used the yolks from the hard boiled eggs and mixed it with the crab for our new filling.
This tasted and looked so much better than our original idea.
That night, we also strained the lemon pulp better for the ice cubes and added a little more sugar to make it less bitter. We began to think of our concept for the experience more, and still liked the idea of the "corny game show host." We thought about our food concept, being different American dishes with a spin, and settled on the idea of a food tour across America. We finally came up with the idea that Kallie and I would be "tour guides" on "4 Bites across America." We thought that the experience would be interacting with the guests as if we were on a bus tour, and playing up the "cheesiness" of it all. We would talk the guests through all of the stops on the 4 Bite Tour and also tell them about the dishes and where they came from geographically.
From there, we thought that since our deviled egg had crab in it, it could be the New England stop on the tour. The bbq pulled pork could be from the south, so we picked Louisiana to represent that stop. The mashed potatoes on a fried potato skin would obviously have to be Idaho, and lastly, we thought that the tour would end with the mint ice cube, so the guest could cleanse their palette and suck on a refreshing cube before their next stop. This last stop would be "Mint-a-sota."
For the final event, we chopped the green apples and coleslaw mix into much smaller pieces for the pulled pork.
We also made a huge improvement with the deviled eggs, piping our new mixture in and decorating with cocktail sauce dots.
We scooped the potato filling out for the mashed potatoes...
and fried the potato skins after cutting them with a circle cutter.
I designed a brand new ingredient list for the guests, since we made so many changes (and improvements).
I also designed Kallie and I name tags, so we could be the guests' "tour guides" through the 4 bites. I then designed a map that show where the food comes from and that would also act as a clean place mat for each of the guests. Here is the final product!
-4 Bites Across America: created by Madeline Wallman and Kallie McBride