I'm not sure why I was asked to be a judge on Bobby Flay's Throwdown on the Food Network, but maybe the fact that I'm stuffing a big hot dog in my mouth in my blog picture has something to do with it.
Throwdown, where Bobby does a cookoff against a regional specialty -- chili, barbecue, etc. -- came to L.A. yesterday to tape an episode at Pink's Hot Dogs. It was kind of an odd idea for a Throwdown, since the dogs weren't made from scratch -- it was about the selection of ingredients, speed of assembly and how well the toppings worked together. Zagat editor and radio personality Merrill Shindler and I were the judges in the blind taste test and after several steamy hours sequestered on Pink's back patio watching the parade of teenage Japanese fashionistas, we were finally ushered to the front of the stand.
A lane of La Brea had been closed off for the taping, and a crowd of passers-by were given free hotdogs in exchange for cheering for their favorite contestants. I think originally the Pink's cooks and Bobby were supposed to assemble three types of hot dogs, but they must have run out of time, so we only judged a sort of Southwestern dog, which was fitting given Flay's Southwestern cooking pedigree.
Each dog bore a guacamole topping, but there the tubesteaks departed considerably. I'm not going to divulge the results of the "competition," but Pink's dog involved two rather flaccid weenies, a slice of American cheese, onions, some of their chili of inscrutable parentage and two juicy but unwieldy slices of bacon. Flay's started with a homemade-tasting roll brushed with butter and grilled, enveloping a thick, juicy hot dog with a clean, meaty flavor. In addition to the guac, it was topped with a liberal sprinkling of pickled jalapenos and a scatter of crumbled blue tortilla chips. You decide. The episode should air in a month or two, and I'll be sure to let you all know.