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Behind the scenes on Iron Chef America, Food Network’s culinary production team is responsible for making sure that the rival chefs have everything they need to cook and present their dishes — from a stocked pantry to plenty of serving vessels — even outside of Kitchen Stadium. Daniella LaRosa from Food Network Kitchens recently shared some fun facts about what it took to pull off last night’s special episode for Grilling Week — the first-ever Military Grill Battle in Hawaii — that pitted Iron Chef Cat Cora against Iron Chef Michael Symon and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. They weren’t alone, though: Each Iron Chef was paired with a sous chef from the Navy, Army or Marine Corps.
Was setting up Kitchen Stadium in Hawaii more difficult than the mainland?
Creating Kitchen Stadium from scratch took a lot of time. We had treated both the Tailgating and Grilling battles like they were challenges from Next Iron Chef — specifically in that equipment and pantry items were going to be limited, and they might have to share during the battle. Because shipping anything to Hawaii was so expensive, we ended up having to spend about four full days personally shopping for equipment and specialty foods in Hawaii for the Iron Chefs and their sous chefs to use during the battle. We used all local produce — the Secret Ingredients were all sustainable and local. We used as many local vendors as we could find or found through word of mouth while we were there. It was also very difficult on both shoot days when we had to set up Kitchen Stadium at 6:00 am using the headlights from our rental car.
How big were each of the ahi tunas (also known as big eye tuna)?
Each of the fish was approximately 80 pounds.
What was provided for each chef’s cooking station?
Each chef got salt and pepper, a cutting board and small utensils. Then there was a shared equipment bank that included pots, pans, bowls, fryers, food processors, stand mixers, meat grinders, meat slicers, ice cream machines and blenders. All equipment was communal.
How much canned ham was purchased for the Hawaii specials?
We purchased 30 cans of the delicious canned ham at a local Japanese supermarket.
What was the most memorable part about shooting at the military base?
There are two that standout. The first was when the military band learned the theme song from Iron Chef America. Hearing it come to life was a very special treat after long, hard days of work. The whole crew had goose bumps while the band was playing it. And secondly, when the huge military helicopter took off and later landed at the base with the Iron Chefs — very memorable.