If there’s ever been a time to be resourceful with leftovers, the pandemic is it.
On a new Netflix cooking competition show called Best Leftovers Ever!, professional and amateur chefs are given leftovers and 30 minutes to transform them into new dishes over the course of two rounds for a chance to win $10,000.
In the first season’s seventh episode, Denton resident and Ten:One Artisinal Cheese Shop employee Anthony Langston competes with two other chefs and cooks to create dishes from birthday party leftovers and Mexican takeout. Langston, a self-taught chef, first gave a shot at television five years ago, when he tried for MasterChef.
Out of 19,000 people across the country who tried out for MasterChef that year, Langston was among the top 80. Although Langston didn’t make the cut, a woman from the show’s casting department remembered him and gave him a call in the spring of 2019.
“I called her back immediately,” Langston says. “I was like, ‘Of course, that sounds great,’ and she went over some other details, but it was still a fresh idea. They had the green light for it and everything, but I didn't have a title for the show. I didn't know the total premise quite yet, so I was kind of going into it in the dark a little bit.”
Langston’s episode filmed in November 2019, months before COVID-19 would force restaurants to limit operations.
For the first round of the competition, the chefs were given leftovers from a child’s birthday party, including a birthday cake, macaroni and cheese cones, fruit kebabs and a sub sandwich.
Langston used the birthday cake and pressed it into a waffle, then topped the waffle with turkey from the sub. He used supplemental ingredients the production team had available and made a poached egg with hollandaise sauce and mole, creating a waffle eggs benedict. He paired it with a Mexican mule cocktail, on which he used muddled fruit from the kebabs and cucumber from the sub.
For the second round, the chefs were given leftover Mexican takeout, each chef receiving different items. Langston was given carne asada tacos, rice and beans. He used the steak from the tacos, along with the rice, to make Asian-inspired dumplings.
Prior to his appearance on Best Leftovers Ever!, Langston had already been privy to creating dishes out of leftovers and found ingredients. His Instagram is lined up with dishes, many of which he’s created on a whim.
“Going into it, I was already pretty resourceful with leftovers,” Langston says, “mainly because, I would like to say I hate waste, but it's really because I'm cheap. I don't want to let anything go to waste. And me being as frugal as I am, I'm always kind of doing this stuff anyway.”
This year, Langston hopes to get into commercial cooking and learn how to cook on a larger scale. When he’s not fulfilling his cheesemonger duties at Ten:One, he offers his personal creations to those who wish to order them. He will often leave a drawing on the box, instructing his customers on how to plate it.
Watch the episode to see if Langston wins, but each contestant was asked what they would do with the prize money. Langston said he would like to apply the money to advancing his cooking skills.
“I told them that I wanted to move to either New York or L.A.,” Langston says, “or maybe even overseas to go work with some of the best chefs out there, so I can learn.”
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