Chefs Scott Linquist, Ivy Stark prepared signature dishes as a sneak preview at Viking Cooking School Tuesday evening, May 10.
The talented chefs behind the popular Mexican restaurant chain Dos Caminos, with four eateries in New York and one each in Las Vegas and Ft. Lauderdale, have been busy. Cinco de Mayo is the biggest day of the year for chefs Ivy Stark and Scott Linquist at their six locations and on top of that, Linquist has been supervising the opening of the seventh location, coming to Harrah’s Resort on Wednesday, May 25, just in time for busy Memorial Day weekend.
The two personable chefs provided a sneak preview of their cuisine, which Stark calls, “Regional Mexican cuisine with a modern component,” at an event at Harrah’s Viking Cooking School on Tuesday, May 10.
The New York locations are acclaimed for their fresh guacamole. Their website says they make 1,000 order of guacamole a day. The two chefs showed us how they make it, with the secret beyond fresh ingredients being the grinding together of the chilies, garlic and spices in a large mortar and pestle to make a paste, thus releasing the oils. The guacamole is fantastic as advertised. Stark told us that 70 million pounds of avocado are used in the United States just on Cinco de Mayo alone.
The good eats also included my favorite bite of the night, a plantain empanada. Instead of corn masa, a masa dough was made from roasted plantain, which is put in a press, filled with a delectable mix of mashed beans (which Stark mashed by hand), chilies, and Chihuahua cheese (turns out that region of Mexico is known for great cheese as well as cute little dogs). The pouch’s edges are then crimped together and the pockets are given a quick fry and were served with chipotle mayonnaise.
The chefs also made lobster ceviche with plantain chips and a fish taco made with grilled mahi mahi on a flour tortilla. The tasting was finished with the classic fried dough treat, churro.
Dos Caminos is also known for its outstanding cocktails for good reason. The three served for the tasting were the restaurant’s signature prickly pear frozen margarita, the El Camino with Milagro Blanco tequila and fresh lime juice and the Calle Fresca. The latter is based on a fruit and vegetable snack sold in the streets of Mexico and features muddled cucumber, mango puree, tequila and an ancho chile salt-rimmed glass. All of them were delicious.
Chef Linquist explained that the menu at the Harrah’s location would change to take advantage of Jersey fresh ingredients. Linquist added that the newest restaurant usually takes the point in introducing new menu items to the Dos Caminos family.
Native to the Pacific coast Mexican resort community of Puerto Escondido, Eulogio has been working professionally in kitchens in the Atlantic City area since arriving 14 years ago.
As an aside, one Italian dude to another, if you’re gonna name a dish after your momma it better be this good. Or else you’re in trouble when you get home.
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