Ingredients for the 151 million possible flavor combinations
At Hot Pot, we’re all about “playing with your food” – cutting loose from cookbooks, ditching the recipe, and just having a great time while experimenting with flavors, techniques, and ingredients. With this in mind, we were excited to launch our new line of open-to-the-public events, the Flavor Mashup series! Just like a music mashup, where to two very different songs are combined to make something cool and new, a Flavor Mashup is all about combining flavors to make your own unique edible creations.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18th, about 25 adventurous guacamole-makers joined us for our first event, Flavor Mashup: Guacamole!
For most, guacamole as a dish that varies little from one plate to another: ripe avocadoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice, all mashed together into a creamy dip. And while a classic guacamole is perfectly delicious, at Hot Pot we think different. How about some fresh strawberries? A dash of curry powder? A handful of peanut M&M’s?
At Flavor Mashup: Guacamole, participants were encouraged to go wild and crazy with their creations. Everyone was taught the basics on how to make a killer guacamole, while also trying new combos, playing with their food, and having a great time.
Sangria in hand, ready to Mashup
The night began with a guacamole demonstration by Hot Pot founder Scott Pollack as he taught the audience the fundamental culinary skills needed to make a guacamole. From the proper way to hold a knife, the safe way to pit an avocado, the perfect diced onion, and more, folks learned all the skills needed to prepare their own unique guacamole.
Not one to be out “flavor mashed”, Scott opted to spice up his demo guac by incorporating coffee beans, chocolate chips, and bacon. That, my friends, is what a Flavor Mashup is all about!
Next, everyone stepped up to to their Hot Pot Pop-Up Kitchen stations. Mixing and matching ingredients from a buffet of options that ranged from avocados to wasabi powder, Flavor Mashers got to work creating flavor combinations that ran the gambit from predictably delicious to daringly ambitious.
The makers of "The Drunken Luau" Guacamole
After preparing a few warm-up guacamoles, participants were asked to ready their “presentation guac” and put it up for a vote. Tortilla chips in hand, everyone the tasted and rated entries that ranged from The H-Bomb (Avocados, tomato, onion, scallions, lemon, jalapeno, raisins, cranberries, chili powder, cumin, M&Ms, wasabi powder, thyme, agave nectar, salt, pepper) to The Nakatangy (avocadoes, ginger, mint, cranberries, pears, kiwi, orange juice, wasabi, and curry powder).
In the end, three Flavor Mashups were chosen from the bunch to represent the best of the best:
Most Awesome Mashup, the blue-ribbon award for Flavor Mashup excellence, was awarded to “Brit’s Fruity Guacamole” a fruit-focused blend of strawberries, kiwis, coconut, pretzels, tomatoes, cilantro, wasabi powder, onions, and lime juice.
Next was the Most Unexpectedly Delicious award, which highlights the Mashup that sounds nasty and yet is surprisingly tasty, went to Paula’s Smores Guac Delite! (Chocolate, marshmallows, pretzels, cocoa powder)
The final award of the night went to the person that most embodied the nature of a Flavor Mashup event: Most Adventurous Failed Experiment, an honor bestowed on someone who puts it all on the line and in the bowl to create something new, bold, and fun. “Birthday Bash Guacamole,” complete with Mango, Bacon, Cilantro, M&Ms, Oreos, Raisins, Sprinkles, “and Awesomeness” may have flown so high its wings melted, but it gets an A+ for effort.
The good, the bad, the guacamole. Regardless of the results, everyone who participated had a good time. And that’s the ultimate goal of Hot Pot Culinary Events – what counts is the journey, not the degustation.