Michael Voltaggio, Roy Choi and Nguyen Tran Hack Their Way Into a Bag of Oreo Cookies

Nguyen Tran and Michael Voltaggio, with Oreos
Nguyen Tran and Michael Voltaggio, with Oreos
courtesy: Oreo

Wonder what your favorite chefs are doing when they're not in their actual restaurants cooking, or running said restaurants or leading otherwise normal lives? Well, some of them are dreaming of strange things to do with Oreo cookies. Like making tortilla chips with them, or coating chicken with cookie bits, or soaking them in bottles of cherry soda to make what can only be described as cookie mud pies. Nope, it's not a secret frat boy club for junk food, although there are certain L.A. restaurants that could be called that.

Oreo recently asked L.A. chefs Michael Voltaggio of Ink, Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran and Roy Choi of Kogi, etc. to play with their food in a very pointed way, as part of the cookie company's #OreoSnackHack campaign. Each chef dreamt up a way of using the classic cookie sandwich in a short recipe that was, well, a bit more inventive than just deconstructing it and dunking it in a glass of milk. That being, of course, the time-honored but now obvious method of eating Oreos. 

As part of the hack project, there are videos of each chef making his own Oreo-inspired dishes, as well as an Oreo Tumblr for other hacks. So you can watch Michael Voltaggio turn his bag of Oreos into cookie chips for strawberry salsa, and Roy Choi transform the cookies into Oreo-crusted chicken tenders, and Nguyen Tran submerge his Oreos in cherry soda, preparatory to creating an Oreo bread pudding. Because if you're going to ask chefs to experiment with a bag of cookies, you're probably not going to go find boring chefs in the first place, are you.

Tran says that the folks at Oreo contacted the chefs separately and that the three worked independently and had no idea what the others were doing. (The Oreo people apparently didn't know the chefs all knew each other, which of course they do. During a recent visit to Starry Kitchen's lunch counter in a Chinatown walking mall, Choi walked over to bring Tran lunch from Chego, which is about a dozen paces away. No Oreos in the rice bowl, at least none visible.)

As for why he'd join the project, Tran said an email that it was pretty simple: "Because I'm OBSESSED with Oreos.  It's a huge part of my childhood. Also the first Cantonese I learned when trying to learn it for my wife was from a Chinese Oreos commercial. I know how to say, 'I know how to Oreos good. Drink milk with it!' (Which is handy in all of 0 situations in Hong Kong btw)."

The videos are fun to watch, and make the whole conceit worthwhile. Tran (and his dog, named, at least for the video, "Oreo") wanders around Chinatown, buying his items and noting that what they do at Starry Kitchen is kind of like hacking anyway (true). Choi cruises Venice in his Kogi truck, narrating (he prefers eating his Oreos whole and in one bite, "kind of like sushi"), then whips up some Golden Oreo-crusted chicken tenders and serves them to unsuspecting people out of the truck. Voltaggio (he does not eat his Oreos whole) is more polished, doing a kind of cooking demo with his cookies in Ink's swank kitchen.

If the idea of this is to get us all to eat more Oreos, that's not really hard to do. Especially when you can grind them up in your pepper mill or turn them into a cocktail or watch them dissolve in cherry soda. Or, apparently, sometimes get them handed to you for free from the Kogi truck.

The Oreo hack campaign comes to us from Mondelez International, which operates in 165 countries, had a 2013 revenue of $35 billion and owns the brands Cadbury, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate, Jacobs coffee, LU and Nabisco biscuits, Tang powdered beverages, Trident gum and Oreos. Because if you had that many resources, you'd find odd things to do with your products too.

ingredients for Starry Kitchen's Oreo Impulse Hack
ingredients for Starry Kitchen's Oreo Impulse Hack
courtesy: Oreos

Oreo Impulse Hack
From: Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran
Tip: Line bowl with plastic wrap for easy release.

5 Oreo Cookies
1 Snack-sized bag (1.75 oz.) of peanuts
1 Snack-sized (2.75 oz.) slice of pound cake
½ Cup diet cherry soda

1. Soften 5 Oreo cookies in soda for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Remove cookies and add to bowl (12 oz.). Save soda for later.

3. Crush peanuts and tear pound cake. Add to bowl with cookies and mix together. Add more soda to mixture if needed.

4. Flip mixture onto plate and enjoy.

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