With almost three years of Iron Chef America battles behind him since winning The Next Iron Chef, Marc Forgione is in no way the rookie of Kitchen Stadium anymore — after all, Iron Chefs Zakarian and Guarnaschelli have both accepted the famed title after him. He clinched the win in 2010, and from that point on he’s been reinventing the secret ingredients to make Chairman-worthy plates in each and every battle, and challenging not only his opposing chefs but also himself to compete at a higher level. Fresh off the opening of his third New York City restaurant, American Cut, FN Dish sat down with Marc to reflect on the past few years of Kitchen Stadium contests and to find out how he balances the demands of restaurant cooking and Iron Chef competitions. Read on below to hear from Iron Chef Forgione and learn which of his restaurants’ dishes he’s re-created on television and more.
It’s been almost three years since you won The Next Iron Chef. What’s been the most-surprising thing you’ve learned in that time?
Marc Forgione: Especially being in New York City, you can’t — whether you want to or not — you can’t rest on your laurels. There’ll be somebody just as hungry, or hungrier, or just as hungry as you were right there waiting for you to fall down so that they can start taking your customers and people can start talking about them. New York is the cliche: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But once you get there, it’s tough to stay there. You have to make sure that you can.
Do you think your style of cooking or approach to food has changed since you started competing on Iron Chef America?
MF: I don’t know if my approach has changed. It’s allowed me to do more of what I’ve always wanted to do before. Because for whatever reason, now people trust me to serve them a pig face, as opposed to before I was on TV, it was harder for me to do that. I can serve people anything now. They trust me.
How do you balance the demands of running three restaurant kitchens and being an Iron Chef?
MF: Very carefully. As far as just the three restaurants alone, I’m just getting used to it. I’m still trying to figure it out. Six months ago my job consisted of waking up and going to Restaurant Marc Forgione. That was it. Now I start there, go over to Khe-Yo, come over here, drive down to Atlantic City.
Have you ever used recipes or ideas from your restaurants’ menus in Kitchen Stadium — or vice versa?
MF: Yes, a lot actually: Chili Lobster, everything bagels and veggie cream cheese. Sometimes I’ll get influenced by an ingredient that I might not have ever thought of using .… It kind of forces me to get inspired by something that I might not think of. At least seven to 10 things.