Food-Manteaus Chefs Gabrielle Hamiltonand Ashley Merriman are quizzed on food-based portmanteaus in a speed round with some of the tastiest bites of wordplay this side of the kitchen.


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Let's meet our first two guests. Ashley Merriman recently became the first female head chef at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. Gabrielle Hamilton is a James Beard Award winner and New York Times bestselling author.

Ashley, Gabrielle, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.



MERRIMAN: Thank you for having us.

EISENBERG: So I'll ask you, Ashley. I don't know the exact answer to this question. How did you two meet?

MERRIMAN: It's a good question.

HAMILTON: (Laughter).

MERRIMAN: We probably have slightly different answers. But...


MERRIMAN: We met because we're both lady chefs. And...


MERRIMAN: ...You know, that...

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: You go to the same lady chef functions all the time.

EISENBERG: I bet there are.

MERRIMAN: Well, in fact, that's where we met, right?


MERRIMAN: There's an annual benefit for...

HAMILTON: Breast and ovarian cancer.

MERRIMAN: ...Breast and ovarian cancer. So would do this fundraiser every year. And I had been working for another lady chef for most - for many, many years in New York. And I was her chef de cuisine and her sous chef for many years, so I'd been to the event many, many times. And the first year that I was out on my own and I was the executive chef of a restaurant without, you know, working under someone else, I went to the event. And that is the first time Gabrielle noticed me.


MERRIMAN: Even though I had been coming to the event many years. And I, like many, many people, I think - like, I don't think I'm speaking out of turn here. Like, I had a big, fat crush on Gabrielle. And so I, of course, all those years noticed her...


MERRIMAN: ...And was like, oh, my God, there's Gabrielle. You know, not just, like, a crush crush, but, like, also just, like, a chef crush. And just, like, I loved her restaurant. And so that's the first time we met. And - yeah.

EISENBERG: Does that story ring true to you, Gabrielle, or are you like, that's not how it happened (laughter)?

HAMILTON: It really is. It's just - (laughter) I just wanted to say that it's not that I didn't notice you, Ashley. It's that your former chef was hiding you behind her.

MERRIMAN: Oh, that's true.


HAMILTON: She was casting a large shadow. And you couldn't be seen...

MERRIMAN: That's true, could not be seen.

HAMILTON: ...Behind the huge personality.


HAMILTON: And so I thought on your first year - I did, from across the room, actually, say to my sous chef, who is that?


HAMILTON: And she said, oh, that's Ashley Merriman. She's like, "Top Chef" Season 4. And I was like, God, "Top Chef"? Forget that.


MERRIMAN: Then it was over. And that's why we didn't meet again for four years.


MERRIMAN: Yeah, whatever.

HAMILTON: One of those competitive chefs?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Exactly. All right. Well, let's see how it works out in a couple of our games. You ready for some games?

HAMILTON: I feel ready. I feel already.

EISENBERG: All right. This is our food show. So we are starting, with all of our guests, with a game. It's a little amuse-bouche, as you may say.

MERRIMAN: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: So we asked our listeners to suggest ingredients that they have at home that they do not know what to do with. So I'm going to give you two ingredients that they've suggested. And you can work together to just improvise a dish that combines them both. Obviously, there are no wrong answers. And you can use these two ingredients as the main ingredients. But you can add whatever you want from a, you know, mythical pantry. OK.

HAMILTON: OK. This is like "Top Chef," Ashley. This is right up your alley.

MERRIMAN: OK, enough with "Top Chef."

COULTON: Oh, boy (laughter).

MERRIMAN: This is a stain on my career.


HAMILTON: This is...

EISENBERG: This is word "Top Chef."

HAMILTON: A ketchup stain.


EISENBERG: All right. Here are your two ingredients, pickled eggs and chestnut honey.



EISENBERG: And I'm told chestnut honey specifically is made by honeybees in areas where chestnut trees are abound. And it is dark and spicy with touches of smoke and leather.


HAMILTON: Oh. OK, Ash, the first thing that's coming to my mind is a savory sort of michelada because, you know, you get pickled eggs in a bar.



HAMILTON: And if you put a beer and honey together, you'll make something kind of like a mead. And the pickled egg - could this work, like, a float?


MERRIMAN: OK, that sounds really bad.

EISENBERG: Float the egg in it?

COULTON: Just float a pickled egg on top. Yeah.

MERRIMAN: I was thinking - I mean, when I heard pickled eggs, right away I was like, oh, we'll make some gribiche. Like, it's already there. It's already halfway there. But the chestnut honey is really throwing me for a loop here.

EISENBERG: Did you say gribiche? Is that what I heard?

MERRIMAN: Gribiche, yeah.

HAMILTON: Sauce gribiche.

MERRIMAN: Yeah, sauce gribiche. It's a egg. It's, like, a chopped, hard-boiled egg with lots of tarragon and vinegar.


MERRIMAN: And it's mayonnaise-y. It's, like, hot egg-on-egg action. So it's got the chopped, hard-boiled egg...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).


HAMILTON: ...And mayonnaise sort of feeling to it. So...


COULTON: Delicious.

EISENBERG: That sounds amazing.


HAMILTON: And the honey?

EISENBERG: What about just - you just circle the honey around the whole dish to make it look nice. How about that?


HAMILTON: Garnish.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah. Exactly.

MERRIMAN: Garnish, yeah.

HAMILTON: The chestnut honey garnish. That's a good one.

EISENBERG: All right. Let's move onto the competition, shall we?

HAMILTON: Oh, boy. We shall.

EISENBERG: OK. We're going to start with a speed round called Food-Manteaus. So from your restaurant Prune, Gabrielle, you know a thing or two about brunch.

HAMILTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Brunch, of course, is a mash-up of the words breakfast and lunch.

HAMILTON: Breakfast and lunch.

EISENBERG: Combining words like that is called a portmanteau. And there are a lot of food-related ones. So Jonathan and I will give you two words. And you just tell us what the portmanteau is. And to make it slightly harder, we are going to give you the words in the wrong order. Gabrielle, I'm going to start with you. Here we go. Gabrielle...


EISENBERG: Raisin and cranberry.

HAMILTON: Craisin.


EISENBERG: Exactly. Pub and gastronomy.

HAMILTON: Gastropub.


EISENBERG: Yes. Yogurt and frozen.

HAMILTON: Frogurt - or is it frogurt?

MERRIMAN: (Laughter).

HAMILTON: I mean, it's like...

EISENBERG: I'll accept it. I'll accept it. I was also - the other possibility is froyo. Fork and spoon.

HAMILTON: Oh, a spork.


EISENBERG: Yes. Cocktail and mock. Yes, the mocktail. Pomelo and tangerine.

HAMILTON: Oh, a tangelo.

EISENBERG: That's right.


EISENBERG: Fantastic. You did great.


EISENBERG: And, of course, the pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. And the tangelo is a hybrid first created in the late 1800s. Who knew?

HAMILTON: Of course.

EISENBERG: I thought that was, you know, yesterday.

COULTON: Of course, of course.

HAMILTON: I knew that.

EISENBERG: And a mocktail is something that I don't enjoy. I would take an alcoholic drink that just gently chided me. But...


COULTON: All right. Well, Ashley, the score to beat is 6 is a perfect score.

MERRIMAN: Wow, wow.

COULTON: So you want a competition, here it is.

MERRIMAN: OK. Here we go.

COULTON: Are you ready?




COULTON: Martini and apple.

MERRIMAN: An appletini.


COULTON: That's right, a very "Top Chef" drink. Turkey...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Sorry. That was - (laughter).

EISENBERG: Low blow, low blow.

MERRIMAN: No. It's, I mean - if we're talking about the downfall of civilization, yes, it's...

EISENBERG: That's what I would drink.

COULTON: Terrible. Terrible.

MERRIMAN: ...Same-same - appletini, "Top Chef," downfall of civilization.

COULTON: Right. It's all in the same basket.


COULTON: All right. Turkey and tofu.

MERRIMAN: Oh, tofurkey.


COULTON: Tofurkey. Mayonnaise and vegan.

MERRIMAN: Veganaise.


COULTON: Yeah. Angry and hungry.




COULTON: Apple and grape.

MERRIMAN: Grapell (ph)? Grapple?


COULTON: (Laughter) Grapple - that's right. Apricot and plum.

MERRIMAN: A pluot.

COULTON: Pluot, yes.


COULTON: All right. You've got them all right.

MERRIMAN: All right.

EISENBERG: Oh, this was way too easy. You did amazing. Speed round 100%, 100%. More with Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman after the break. And from Food Network Carla Hall and Nancy Fuller. We'll meet a brand-new character. Everyone's buzzing about. Plus, a little later, "Bake Off's" breakout star Nadiya Hussain. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.


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