King vs Lorenzo: Who makes the baddest Burrito?

Burrito brawl with Chef King Phojanakong (right) and home cook Lorenzo Beronilla.

By Cristina DC Pastor

A buddy “competition” between a home cook and a professional chef played out on the YouTube reality show Epicurious.

Kuma Inn Chef King Phojanakong and home cook Lorenzo Beronilla staked their professional reputations on making the Breakfast Burrito — using each other’s ingredients.  Needless to say, there was a lot of slicing, mixing, frying, ribbing, and laughing in the kitchen.

Here’s the caveat. Each had to assemble his own ingredients — and swap them. Lorenzo’s ingredients cost $13, as he wisecracked King’s expensive budget of $206 for his ingredients is equivalent to his “Spectrum bill.”

King’s ingredients included a cut of Kurobuta pork, Maitake mushrooms and banana blossoms. The Kurobuta pork is to make the Longganisa. Lorenzo who enjoyed needling King was shocked that King’s recipe called for  Longganisa.

“I’m making Longganisa? I buy it in packs,” he wondered laughing.

King noted how Lorenzo’s ingredients are “simpler,” using items easily found in a local bodega. “I will use it to the best of my abilities.”


King’s recipe required making a lot of components from scratch: the Nam Prik Pao or the Thai Salsa, the garlic fried rice,  and the Longganisa sausage. 

He wanted a Burrito full of Filipino and Thai flavors, he said like he was setting the bar high for Lorenzo.

Lorenzo’s Torta
King carefully folding his Burrito.

Lorenzo, who is unfamiliar with some of King’s ingredients sought the help of food scientist Rosemary Trout. From a video, she explained how to open a banana blossom and what parts of vegetable were to be eaten or to be discarded.

“This is frightening,” he said.

The banana blossom is similar to the banana heart, artichoke or the heart of palm in terms of texture and sweetness, said King who clearly knew his fixins and how they would taste. Home cook Lorenzo was a diligent learner.

King, who is also chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education,

decided to improvise and make his own mayonnaise.

“Mayonnaise is an emulsification. Emulsification is when you combine two things that usually don’t go together,” he said sounding like he was lecturing in class.  While beating eggs he was adding little bit of vinegar to hasten the emulsification. His mayo was a dark yellow paste; he was pleased with the taste.

King showed how patience is required when frying bacon. He threw about five slices in a hot cast iron pan to render out the fat.  “Music to my ears,” he said of the sizzle.  “You turn it over 25 times.”

Lorenzo made some magic of his own with beautifully cooked garlic fried rice topped with shreds of banana blossoms. His tomato-based Nam Prik Pao which he flavored with shrimp paste and then put through a blender would be great with chips, he said. He was proud of his Torta and how it held together when neatly folded.

Both gentlemen made their Tortilla wrapper from scratch. But Lorenzo was unruffled. “If this doesn’t work out, there’s a bodega downstairs,” he joked.

King, once more winging it in the kitchen, deep-fried his Burrito turning it into Chimichanga. Lorenzo’s Burrito cracked open.

They took a bite of each other’s Burritos and were pleased at how bravely they made use of the ingredients even if some were unfamiliar and being tried for the first time. Lorenzo teased King about giving him a hard time and some heart palpitations.

Epicurious is a YouTube series featuring food, recipes, chefs, home cooks, and celebrities who cook. Lorenzo Beronilla whose pilot episode garnered 45 million views and is one of the show’s regulars and “fan favorites.” His first book “Let’s Do This Folks: Home Cooking with Lorenzo” with easy-to-follow recipes was published in 2021.

King Phojanakong opened Kuma Inn on New York’s Lower East Side in 2003, where he’s served Filipino and Southeast Asian food for more than 15 years. Cooking was an influence that came from his Filipino mother and Thai father. He joined the Institute of Culinary Education as a Chef Instructor in 2017.

© The FilAm 2022

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