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Chef Chat, Part 3 - Michael Pellegrino of Max's Wine Dive

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In Chef Chats parts one and two, we talked with Max's Wine Dive Chef Pellegrino about his creative contributions to the restaurant's menu. Then we tried two of them.

The Hungry-Max is a revisit to the grade-school cafeteria lines, with the items served in its nostalgic compartments changing depending on seasonality. The Hungry-Max shown here came with a wild game meatloaf of venison and buffalo. Layered into this loaf were an assortment of different roasted peppers (bell, poblano and Anaheim) and a special house barbecue sauce. It was topped with a delectable mushroom gravy that seeped nicely into the fluffy loaf. Served up alongside it were some more old-school staples: mashed potatoes, corn (in this case a jalapeño corn succotash), cornbread and a little dessert (apple strawberry cobbler). This dish made me feel like a kid again. Of course, this time around, I felt like more like Richie Rich than the little confused Vietnamese boy munching on his first chimichanga, but you get the picture.

The crackling chicken is a skin-on but boneless chicken breast and thigh. The skin side is seared on a screaming-hot skillet so that it crackles and crisps as if it was deep-fried. The crackling chicken is then roasted in the oven and served with a mushroom risotto. The lightly seasoned chicken was a great complement to risotto perfectly shaken, not stirred, with chicken stock, butter and Parmesan until nice and creamy. The dish was finished with a little bit of chives on top and some truffle oil. The perfectly cooked chicken in both dark and white meat varieties pleased the palate, and the chicken and the risotto together danced on the tongue, while the truffle oil and spring mushrooms added a sophisticated yet subtle flavor to the dish.

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