Scenes From a Star-Studded ‘Future of Junk Food’ Event

Sam Monsour, Mark O'Leary, and a host of Boston's best chefs took on fatty breakfast favorites.

future of junk food

Photo provided by Tara Morris

On August 4, some of Boston’s best culinary talent joined up with Kitchensurfing for the fourth installment of Sam Monsour and Mark O’Leary’s “The Future of Junk Food” series.  In previous pop-ups, the former JM Curley duo have tackled everything from Snickers bars to Handi-Snacks with additions like foie gras, chicken liver mousse, and Vietnamese Nuoc Mau. This time they looked at popular breakfast foods like Fruity Pebbles cereal, the McDonald’s McGriddles sandwich, and Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and Americans are still swallowing fast food in disguise,” Monsour says. “From the cereal aisle to Starbucks, and everything in between, Americans are encouraged to eat processed foods from the moment they rise. We thought it’d be fun to turn this idea on its head, and serve traditional morning staples with fresh ingredients.”

Lending a hand for their latest event was La Brasa’s Daniel Bojorquez, West Bridge’s Matthew Gaudet, Area Four’s Michael Leviton and Jeff Pond, Tavern Road’s Louis DiBiccari, and chef Tony Susi. With a profusion of talent rarely seen outside of a food festival, the group crafted six unforgettable dishes. Here’s a look inside the planning, research, and ingredients that inspired each course.

future of junk food

From left: Matthew Gaudet, Sam Monsour, Jeff Pond, and Michael Leviton. Photo by Tara Morris


Fruity Pebbles
Mark O’Leary & Samuel Monsour

future of junk food

Fruity Pebbles as interpreted by Sam Monsour and Mark O’Leary. Photo by Tara Morris.

“Our first dish was our take on cereal,” Monsour says. “First we made Fruity Pebbles out of lemongrass and kaffir lime to allude to the citrus notes in old school pebbles. We then made a Thai coconut soup, served chilled, with lobster and a little chili heat. The ‘milk’ was served in a glass, the pebbles were presented in a mini Future of Junk Food cereal box, and the guests were given a cereal bowl with a piece of poached lobster and lemongrass oil.”

Breakfast Taco
Daniel Bojorquez, La Brasa

future of junk food

A deconstructed breakfast taco by Daniel Bojorquez. Photo by Tara Morris

“I prepared a spin on chilaquiles. Typically this dish consists of crispy tortillas toasted in chilies with chicken and eggs. Instead I made house-made masa with ashes and boiled white corn from North Star Farm in Maine. I ground that up and made it into small dumplings fried in corn oil. Then I made rabbit boudin blanc that was stuffed into rabbit loin and poached. I sliced that and plated it with the masa dumplings and a purée of guajillo chilies.”

Denny’s Grand Slam
Louis DiBiccari, Tavern Road
Tony Susi, Boston Legend

future of junk food

Tavern Road’s Louis DiBiccari made his version of Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast with liver sausage-stuffed rye bread. Photo by Tara Morris

“Ours was basically a play on ravioli with no pasta dough,” DiBiccari says. “I stuffed rye bread with liver sausage that we got from Tony Susi’s uncle’s butcher shop (Sulmona Meat Market) in the North End. After we made the sandwich, we pressed it, froze it, dipped it in pancake batter, and fried it. We placed a gummy egg yolk on top, some smoked maple syrup, and parmesan powder.”

Breakfast Pizza
Jeff Pond, Area Four & A4 Pizza
Michael Leviton, Lumière & Area Four

future of junk food

A breakfast pizza by Area Four’s Michael Leviton and Jeff Pond. Photo by Tara Morris

“There was no way to predict how La Brasa’s ovens would work with A4’s pizza so we cooked the pizzas in Somerville [at A4 Pizza] and then finished them off in the oven at La Brasa,” Pond says. “We did a souped-up version of the breakfast pizza offered during Area Four’s brunch. It’s a white pie with a sour cream and buttermilk base, pepper jack and cheddar cheese, breakfast sausage (maple, blackberry, sage), Niman Ranch bacon, and a sunnyside-up quail egg. We finish it with a garnish of crispy potatoes, bacon, and pickled banana pepper relish.”

Matthew Gaudet, West Bridge

future of junk food

Matthew Gaudet’s interpretation of McDonald’s McGriddles breakfast sandwich. Photo by Tara Morris

“I have to be honest, I’ve never had a McGriddle, so I had to go on Wikipedia to figure out the details. I haven’t set foot in a McDonald’s or Wendy’s in 14 years, so I’m a little out of touch. So, I deconstructed the whole dish. I took the obvious route and used maple-brined pork belly that we grilled and branded with “WB” (for West Bridge). I topped it with corn puree and frisee blasted in the wood burning oven. Next we made a queso fresco and prosciutto cromesquis, basically a molten cheese, into which we put hot pepper puree and aji amarillo, so it tasted like nacho cheese. On top of that went a sous vide egg yolk wrapped in bacon and house-made scrapple (pork shoulder, heart, livers, and ham from Savenor’s Market in Cambridge). The plate was garnished with crushed chicharrones, pancake ice cream, and an apple and elderberry gastrique.”

BK French Toast Sticks
Mark O’Leary & Samuel Monsour

future of junk food

Sam Monsour making his version of BK’s French Toast sticks. Photo by Tara Morris

“Our last dish was a loose play on chicken and waffles,” O’Leary says. “We made a duck fat brioche and made Burger King French toast sticks. We got strawberries from Pell Farm and made a hot sauce, then finished the dish off with a drizzle of super small batch maple syrup, shaved foie torchon, and some chicken skin trail mix.”

future of junk food

BK French Toast plated. Photo by Tara Morris