Chef Katsuji Tanabe wants to be the best Mexican kosher chef in the world, which has to make you ask: how many others are there? Regardless, he’s a champion and devotee to the world of kosher cooking, deftly navigating its strict rules and prohibitions to produce some tasty Mexican food. Last week, the frequent reality TV competitor on shows like Chopped (he won that one), Top Chef Season 12, Master Chef Mexico, Food Fighters, and now NBC Universo’s Top Chef Mexico, held a mole throw down with fellow TCM contestant, chef Adriana Solis Cavita, who worked with iconic chef Enrique Olvera at Mexico City’s Pujol. It’s all part of Tanabe’s plan of spreading the doctrine of kashrut fare—but it was also a chance to try some excellent moles.
The Battle of the Mole, presented by We Like L.A., gave 20 guests a taste of each contestants’ moles. There was a mole chichilo made with chiles chilhuacle, costeno, tabiche, and pasilla mixe from chef Adriana, while chef Katsuji went with a variety based on a Oaxacan mole negro, but with a sweeter profile. Tanabe’s mole was the winner of this mole caucus, but it was a special treat to taste the dark, smoky chichilo made with rare chiles brought in from Oaxaca.
Tanabe may have prevailed this time, but viewers will soon get to see both Solis-Cavita and L.A.’s own kosher Mexican prize fighting culinarian compete against other notable chefs like Christian Bravo (Punta del Mar) and Adria Marina (Don Ramen). The NBC Universo show will debut in the U.S. on February 18th with a judging panel that consists of legendary Modern Mexican chef Guillermo Gonzalez, Aquiles Chavez, Juanxto Sanchez, and Martha Ortiz along with Mexican celebrity host Ana Claudia Talancon.
In case you weren’t at Mexikosher to try the pair of serious competition moles, Tanabe promises that you’ll be seeing lots of other Mexican techniques on Top Chef Mexico, plus a wealth of traditional ingredients and the mischievous and always entertaining Tanabe himself, who is always game for a culinary battle.