Recently comedians Danny Palumbo and Joe Hafkey, went for a little fine dining at Golden Corral’s “legendary, endless buffet”. When they didn’t find any they made some. Danny Palumbo explains it was for their new podcast, Tastebreakers.
“Joe and I had an idea to walk into the Golden Corral and sit at a table with podcast equipment,” said Palumbo. “And I couldn’t stop giggling about it so we did it. A while ago I made a fake fine dining restaurant for kids called lilbuco.com, where my brother and I plated kids’ food obnoxiously. This was a similar idea, plating terrible food and giving it a fancy name like “meatloaf crostini.” It’s just meatloaf on a piece of previously frozen garlic bread. Joe works in fine dining and I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 15 so it was a blast.”
Danny and Joe didn’t stop there, they also enlisted the aid of an actual chef, Timothy McLaughlin, for some of the descriptions. McLaughlin is a chef at the award-winning Walnut Grill Restaurant in Pittsburgh. Palumbo met McLaughlin at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino. “He was a Sous Chef and I was a cook there. We didn’t even really ever work together just hung out and took smoke breaks. Tim was cool. He didn’t have like typical crude kitchen humor which I enjoyed. One time I cracked up because he told me saw one of his cooks doing a terrible job at fine dicing something and he said, ‘Did I tell you to cut this crazy dice?’ Which is one of the funniest kitchen insults I’ve heard. I say crazy dice all the time now when someone has terrible knife skills (which I do).”
Without further ado, Golden Corral Plated:
A collision of the seasons, this pairing of cauliflower’s crisp breeze with broccoli’s robust root notes at first appears to be a dish at odds with itself. However, the heavenly melted cheese product acts as the bow atop this roasted gift of a dish. – Joe Hafkey.
Ham Chunk Salad
I appreciate the yin-yang corn interpretation, as well as the singular, offset romaine leaf that is reminiscent of a bird in flight over a crushing wave of ranch dressing. Glorious. – Chef Timothy McLaughlin
The 2nd course, a lovely potato-two-ways (potatwos). Mashed and Sweet, an idea I had when I was served marble mashed potatoes at an off-highway steakhouse. A deconstructed version of those potatoes from my youth, these starchy vegetables gleam both individually and in unison. A dish open to interpretation: A tantalizing marriage of flavor, or perhaps even a long overdue reconciliation – my hope is that this plate will leave the eater in contemplation for hours. – Danny Palumbo
Protein Punch Bowl
The appropriately named Protein Punch Bowl caught us like Tyson’s right hook. The powerhouse here is the chicken; lightly breaded, perfectly fried, it’s a taste so good words like “delicious” seem too namby-pamby to use as descriptors. Floating in and stinging like an Ali jab is the drizzled Honey and Mustard, providing the perfect opening salvo of tangy and sweet to set up the knock-out punch chicken. – Joe Hafkey
Meatloaf Crostini, Shrimp Crostini
In a nod to Ferran Adria and Spanish cutting edge gastronomy, we are presented with a “choose your own adventure” sort of surf and turf. Moving toward the beef portion is a mild interlude to the dish as blandness moves in waves over your palate. The adventurous, who will gravitate toward the shrimp, will be almost immediately overtaken with crippling dysentery as the crustacean had been “warm-aged” in a malfunctioning cooler for a period of 6 days. – Chef Timothy McLaughlin
Ice Cream Snake in a Candied Jungle
Dessert. A tempting, often forbidden excursion. Here, the snake stands as a symbol of human sexuality and temptation. The candied jungle represents a responsibility to earth and a need for ecological sustainability. The nuts are there because I really like nuts. – Danny Palumbo
You can find Danny and Joe on twitter. If you live in the Austin area, you can catch Danny headlining Sure Thing, Saturday July 26th, 8pm at Austin Java. Joe Hafkey co-hosts Jazz Cigarette, a twice-monhtly stand-up showcase with the next show July 28th, 9:30pm at the Spider House Ballroom.