Restaurant 108 Top Chef: Senior Sammy Hernandez

Bertina Xue and Cleo Falvey

This week’s Top Chef: Restaurant 108 featured the final competitor: Senior Sammy Hernandez. Hernandez created a host of amazing dishes that were inspired by his Puerto Rican roots. The deliciousness of the dishes and the high quality of the service made for an excellent overall dining experience.

The appetizer menu consisted of Fried Plantains and Pastelitos, which featured ground beef and cheese ensconced in a crispy fried dough packet. The pastelitos crumbled deliciously, and the savory filling hit the spot.

The ground beef-filled pastry was a tasty starter to awaken our appetites. The juicy filling and crunchy exterior provided a contrasting texture.

The entree menu consisted of three options: Arroz con Pollo, Pork Shoulder and Vegetariana Especial. We ordered the Arroz con Pollo and the Vegetariana Especial. The vegetarian meal consisted of rice topped with red beans, a potato salad and a broccoli and cauliflower mixture. The rice and beans were perfectly spiced, and the potato salad had chunks of peach in it, which was an unexpected, but welcomed addition.

The Arroz con Pollo also came with rice topped with red beans. The rice was cooked firm while the side of stewed chicken was cooked tender, until the meat separated easily from the bone. An addition of soft carrots and celery complimented the stewed chicken. There was also some chicken broth, which added a nice flavor to the rice when paired together. We really appreciated that both entrees came in large portions, completely satisfying our hunger.

The dessert was a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream on top and a light drizzle of fudge. The portion size was almost too generous, and although the brownie was not a Puerto Rican dessert, its rich, intense chocolate flavor and fudge-like texture made every bite worthwhile.

Overall, the dining experience was fantastic; waiters eagerly asked us if we needed anything else and how we were enjoying our meals on several occasions.

At only $12 per meal, Top Chef at the high school is a great way to get a quality lunch and support student chefs at the high school.

The winner of the last four weeks’ Top Chef competition will be announced shortly, so check back for more updates.