By Sam Eichner, GazeboNews Reporter
Updated October 27th, 8:55am.
The North Shore could have a new celebrity chef on its hands.
Deerfield native and University of Illinois alumni Ryan Abramson recently took home the $25,000 prize on TNT’s On the Menu—a competition-based reality TV show that gives everyday chefs the chance to have their specialty dish appear on menus in restaurants across the country.
Abramson first applied for the show last April at the behest of his mother, who had instilled in him a passion for cooking at a young age.
“We never really went out to dinner as kids,” he says. “My mom always made us homemade meals, and at one point we adopted the love of cooking ourselves.”
Abramson auditioned with Turkey Meatloaf Balls; he developed the recipe for what would become the winning dish–Apple Danish Stuffed French Toast–together with his mother.
“We’re always trying to make elaborate dishes,” Abramson says. “We don’t want to have to choose between a bunch of different styles or flavors—we want to fuse them into one dish.”
Indeed, his unique take on French toast is a veritable pastiche of different tastes and textures—it’s sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy, and crispy, all at the same time. After successfully passing a series of cooking challenges—like crafting 7 different styles of egg, and preparing a dish for celebrity Chef Emeril Lagassi—Abramson presented his specialty to Lagassi, host Ty Pennington, and an executive from Denny’s.
“She was definitely tearing up,” Abramson says, referring to his mother’s reaction to the victory. “It was a cool moment for her to see the tips and the teaching she’s bestowed upon me come to fruition.”
In addition to receiving $25,000, Abramson will have his dish on Denny’s menus nationwide. Judges also matched the prize money with a $25,000 donation to No Kid Hungry–a charity dedicated to combating child hunger—in Abramson’s name; on air, Abramson said that this was “the cherry on top” of the whole experience.
Though he plans to keep his day job for now–as a member of business software review aggregator G2 Crowd’s community development team–Abramson did suggest that he might try to get on another show next year.
And as for what he’ll do with his winnings?
“I’ll probably save it, invest it, pay off some student loans,” he says, “and most likely buy a new pair of shoes.”
Though Abramson could not share his winning recipe with GazeboNews (it is now the property of Denny’s), he did send us this:
Iberian Eggs Benedict
Ingredients for the poached eggs and pico de gallo
1 Cup Chorizo
1 Medium Tomato – Diced
1 Onion- finely chopped
2 springs fresh cilantro – finely chopped
1 green onion – finely choped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 english muffins or 2 flour tortillas
Fill a skillet or pot with about 2-3 inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer or gentle boil. Slowly lower each egg into the water and let cook about 3-4 minutes. When the whites are firm and the eggs begin to rise scoop them gently with a slotted spoon.
Dice chorizo and cook in a skillet. While sausage is cooking, lightly toast English muffins or, for a more advance version, take flour taco tortilla and put into a muffin tin. Spray a light layer of cooking spray and bake at 350 until slightly crispy.
Combine tomato, onion, cilantro, and green onion in a medium size mixing bowl. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir evenly and refrigerate until serving the iberian eggs benedict.
Ingredients for the chipotle hollandaise:
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcesteshire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lemon juice, to taste
1/8 cup melted butter
1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
Whip egg yolks until they are foamy. Continue whipping while you add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler and place over medium heat, and continue whipping by hand until sauces thickens and forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted. Then remove sauce from the heat and add the butter and the chipotle puree.
To serve, place a layer of pico de gallo on the english muffins or taco shell then the chorizo, and top with the eggs and spoon Chipotle Hollandaise over the top. Slice avocados on the side.