Restaurant 108 Top Chef: Nathan Lourie, Mona Dias and Isaac Dassel

Evan Marohn and Bertina Xue

The third installment of the annual Top Chef competition in Restaurant 108 featured three chefs, rather than the usual one, as seniors Nathan Lourie, Mona Dias and Isaac Dassel collaborated on an Italian-themed menu with several appetizer, entree and dessert options.

First, we were served a basket of focaccia breadsticks, which were lightly flavored with butter and rosemary. This soft and chewy starter was a great contrast in texture compared to the other appetizers. We also ordered the bruschetta and the salad. The bruschetta consisted of two round pieces of crunchy bread topped with freshly chopped tomatoes. The dry bread and juicy tomatoes complemented each other, and the flavor of the balsamic vinegar was not overwhelming. The salad was a delightful combination of romaine, artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese and peppers. The romaine was crunchy while the artichoke hearts were a little softer and added to the variety of savory flavors in the dish. The extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar dressed made the salad taste light, so we didn’t feel full before the main course.

For the entree portion of the meal, we had a choice of four menu items, and settled on the pasta carbonara and chicken marsala, though reluctantly passed on the steak and fish. The pasta carbonara consisted of fettuccine, topped with a light buttery sauce and crumbled bacon. The dish did not have a strong flavor but was hearty nonetheless. Like the pasta carbonara, the chicken marsala was also garnished with slices of zucchini sauteed with onions. The marsala wine and butter emphasized the natural meaty flavor of the chicken, while the mushroom and bacon toppings gave the dish an extra pleasant kick. The chicken was cooked tender enough so it could easily be cut, but remained reasonably chewy. Both entrees pleased our palates and were served in large enough portions to satisfy our ravenous appetites.

Lastly, we received biscotti for dessert, a small, crunchy chocolate cookie with hazelnut pieces embedded inside. The biscotti was surprisingly rich, and contained a semi-soft center which served as a pleasant contrast to its rigid exterior. This delicious dessert had us craving a nice hot cup of coffee or tea to go with it.

The overall Restaurant 108 Top Chef experience was one of great culinary expertise from some of the school’s most talented connoisseurs. Each dish was tasty, filling, and well presented, making for a truly satisfying gastronomic experience. Stay tuned for future Top Chef coverage!