Watch Benjamin Bettinger prepares his grilled corn on the cob with poblano aioli
WHEN VITALY PALEY and Benjamin Bettinger rendezvous, good food follows—and, sometimes, the war drums of reality TV. Bettinger first joined the legendary Paley’s Place as a potato-peeling intern. Six years later, he was chef de cuisine. In 2008, he broke away from Paley’s Franco-inflections to launch Beaker & Flask, unleashing a new breed of whole-animal butchery with big, bold flavors and blending the cuisines of Italy, Spain, and France into an updated comfort-food menu with a porcine focus. In his world, dreamy mac and cheese is tumbled with bright crumbles of blood sausage, and tender pork cheeks sit atop tangles of pickled octopus. It was no surprise that when Paley got his turn on Iron Chef last year, he recruited his former right-hand man for the smoke-fueled battle—nor that the pair earned a hard-fought victory over Food Network star Jose Garces.
This month, the duo will team up once again at Paley’s forthcoming downtown kitchens—Imperial and Portland Penny Diner, both in SW Broadway’s Hotel Lućia—under a banner of forgotten Americana, fusing Paley’s locavore philosophy with Bettinger’s swagger. In an ode to Bettinger’s culinary rise, we’re celebrating not one of his meat masterpieces, but a seasonal side: grilled corn in a thick, spicy poblano aioli. This souped-up take on the Mexican street-food elote, traditionally served grilled or roasted and topped with mayonnaise and cotija cheese, is a quintessential late-summer snack: sweet, spicy, and mobile, with a dash of nostalgia.