My Panda Express “Top Chef” Experience

Dancing-Dragon-Chicken.jpgWalk out our front door, head East on foot, the closest restaurant is a half mile straight into the UCLA campus… Panda Express. I like their food. I also run errands then – buy stamps (US post office in Ackerman Union) and greeting cards (Bruin Bookstore).  So what is this photo of a non-existent Dancing Dragon Chicken entrée?  It’s my team’s awesome entry in the Panda Express Wok Star Challenge.

judgingThis past week, I joined a handful of food bloggers at the headquarters of Panda Express to compete in their Wok Star Challenge for charity. My cooking partner, the ever capable Kim of Ravenous Couple did 96% of our team’s work, to be honest.  I was preoccupied with taking {lousy} photos.  Geez, will I ever master White Balance under an array of different light bulbs?

Note our competitors: Quyen of Kitchen Runway, Hong also of Ravenous Couple, Vernon of Stellar Recipes and Cathy of Gastronomy, H.C. of L.A. and O.C. Foodventures, and Jenna of Eater LA.  We were randomly paired into teams of two.  I was on Team 2 and felt pretty bad for Kim right from the get-go.

Team 2Our final entrée was scrumptious, kudos to Kim – she knew what she needed to do.  Wok’d up some chicken, peppers, onions, baby corn, mushrooms together with curry, lime juice, kumquat, cilantro and basil. She even styled the plate with a dragon-ish look (asparagus for legs, etc.)  Yet, we didn’t win. Executive Chef Judge Andy Koo likes it much hotter! Quyen and Kathy won. Their food was good. OURS WAS GOOD, TOO. We all ate each others’ entries and then were treated to a feast. And gifts. Lots of them, what a score. Larry and I now own a wok, thank you Panda Express.

To read a blow-by-blow of the frenzied activity from a WINNER’S point of view, Kathy presented it here.

So what’s in this post for you?  FREE FOOD.  Panda’s Chinese New Year’s uber-popular Firecracker Chicken Breast — marinated chicken, chilies, red and yellow bell peppers, onions in spicy sauce — is available until March 1 but mark your calendar for February 3rd to score a single-sized portion FREE, print out this coupon and redeem it at any Panda Express. That day I will step out my front door, walk a half a mile East…

AND… watch for announcements from Panda for more FREE FOOD in March by following them on Facebook.  They are launching a brand new entrée that sounded quite good.  Secret. Cannot tell you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gastronomer February 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm

How did I miss this post?! It was awesome competing in the Wok Star Challenge with you! I hope we’ll meet again soon at another delicious event 🙂

2 Lana January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Your chicken looks great, and I can imagine that it tasted great too. I didn’t see the dragon first, but I guess it’s standing on its head? If the asparagus forms the legs?
What a great event to be a part of! Especially if it is paired with great company and good food:)
Now I am off to read the other team’s recap!

3 Cathy/ShowFoodChef January 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm

That sounds SO fun. You are always involved in such fun projects. Your dish def sounds like a winner to me!

4 Priscilla - She's Cookin' January 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

Wow, how fun! I so wish I had gone to this now 🙁 Your (and Kim’s) Dancing Dragon Chicken is colorful with lots of texture – looks delicious! And your photos look fine – sheesh, I still use Auto!

5 Val January 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Aw darn! I tried to copy/paste Chinese characters saying: “Very Good” from (online translator) but it doesn’t seem to have copied the Chinese characters 🙁 … sad, very bad! (sorry)………your dish looks scrumptious!

6 Quyen - Kitchen Runway January 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

ps….your pictures look great by the way!

7 Quyen - Kitchen Runway January 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Great recap Patti!! Your Dancing Dragon Chicken dish was delish and quite artistic! It was such a fun experience and “Top Chef” quick fire challenges are no joke =) (I’m still trying to figure out white balance myself!)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: