All Posts By Simon Majumdar

Simon Majumdar is an acclaimed food writer who travels the globe in search of the very best meals the world has to offer. He can be seen regularly on Food Network in shows such as Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Extreme Chef, and has also contributed numerous articles to FN Dish. Simon has published two best-selling food memoirs: Eat My Globe and Eating For Britain, and is currently touring the United States researching for his new book, Fed, White & Blue, which will catalog his journey to American citizenship.

One-on-One With the ICA: Tournament of Champions Winner

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, June 2nd, 2013

Iron Chef Jose Garces vs. Iron Chef Michael SymonDespite some extremely tough battles, it was Iron Chef Michael Symon who finally emerged victorious from the first-ever Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions. He defeated Iron Chef Garces in a classic confrontation, claiming the title, as well as the bragging rights over his fellow members of the Kitchen Stadium club.

Before he went out to celebrate, I caught up with him and asked for his thoughts on the tournament and his victory.

Since you won, I’m assuming you think that the Tournament of Champions was a good idea. Would you still have felt the same if you had lost?
MS: I definitely still would have thought it was a great idea to have the Tournament of Champions, even if I hadn’t won it. But I’m not going to lie to you, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot less!

Bobby Flay didn’t take part in the tournament. Do you think that cheapens the title, and how do you think you would get on against Iron Chef Flay if you did battle him?
MS: You only have to look at some of the tough battles between the other Iron Chefs to know that Bobby’s absence did not weaken the tournament at all. Iron Chef Flay and I have known each other for so long and are such good friends that we have promised that we will never compete against each other. I know it’s a cop-out, but if we were forced to battle, I think it would probably result in a tie.

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Iron Chef Bobby Flay Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 30th, 2013

Iron Chef Bobby FlayI am often asked which Iron Chef is the most intimidating to judge in Kitchen Stadium, and without hesitation, I always reply, “Bobby Flay.” His well-earned reputation, coupled with that calm penetrating stare when a panelist dares to give a negative comment on one of his dishes, is enough to make even the toughest of critics shrivel like a salted slug.

Fortunately for me, he definitely seems to bring his “A” game when I am on the panel, and although he is not always victorious, I am constantly reminded of why he is the chef so many contenders want to test their culinary chops against.

I grabbed a couple of minutes with Iron Chef Flay before battle to ask him these, 10 very important questions.

The Cookery Police are going to raid your house and take all of your books. They allow you to save one. Which would it be?
BF: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

Who was your culinary mentor(s)?
BF: Jonathan Waxman and Wolfgang Puck

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Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 23rd, 2013

Iron Chef Masaharu MorimotoIf all Iron Chef battles were to be judged solely on creativity, then most of Iron Chef Morimoto’s opponents should just enter Kitchen Stadium waving a white flag. Few chefs I have encountered can take the Chairman’s Secret Ingredient to such unexpected places while still creating dishes that are as delicious as they are exciting.

He may not always emerge victorious, but he’s still the one Iron Chef who gives me a shiver of anticipation when I find out I am going to be judging one of his battles.

Here are Morimoto-san’s typically enigmatic responses to 10 probing questions:

Do you feel added pressure to maintain the standards of Iron Chef America, given your association with the original Iron Chef Japan?
MM: I always feel tremendous pressure no matter which country I do the Iron Chef battle in. This pressure, however, is not because I am the original Iron Chef Japan.

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Iron Chef Michael Symon Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 16th, 2013

Iron Chef Michael SymonMichael Symon was the first Iron Chef I ever encountered in person. And I am delighted to say that, during the last three years, I have had the opportunity to hear his all-too-famous laugh on many more occasions, both as a co-judge on The Next Iron Chef as well as when I am lucky enough to judge his battles in Kitchen Stadium.

Just before he entered into battle against his fellow Iron Chefs, I took the chance to catch up with one of my favorite Food Network chums and demand answers to the following questions.

You once told me that you feared only “My wife, my mother and God — not necessarily in that order.” But is there any chef that you would hate to come up against in Kitchen Stadium?
MS: Not really. That’s not because I don’t think there are any chefs out there that are better than me, but because I live for competition and the battles in Kitchen Stadium. So win or lose, there is no one I’d be afraid to go up against.

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Iron Chef Marc Forgione Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 9th, 2013

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneDuring Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef, I probably gave Chef Forgione more grief than both of the other judges combined did and called him out a number of times for various reasons.

Despite that, he managed to make it all the way to the finale, where his superb take on a Thanksgiving dinner made him my clear winner. Since then, Iron Chef Forgione has gone on to prove himself a very worthy addition to the culinary pantheon.

Here are 10 questions and answers that will hopefully give you more insight into the youngest of their order.

Your father, Larry Forgione, is often called “The Godfather of American Cuisine.” Was coming from a family of such astonishing culinary provenance a help or a hindrance as you climbed the ladder?
MF: A little bit of both. I think it definitely helped open doors for me, but at the same time everything I did was a lot more closely watched. There’s nothing worse than getting yelled at by a chef and then having them say to me, “Do you think your father would be happy with that?”

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Iron Chef Jose Garces Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 2nd, 2013

Iron Chef Jose GarcesThis year gave me my first opportunity to judge Iron Chef Jose Garces in Kitchen Stadium. Although I already knew he has always been held in high regard in the culinary world, it was great to experience, first hand, how he combines his superb technical skills with an ability to make seriously delicious food.

I hope I have many more opportunities to sample his dishes again in the future. In the meantime, I caught up with him for a few moments to ask 10 questions about his culinary background and beliefs.

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Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 25th, 2013

Iron Chef Alex GuarnaschelliIf sheer determination was the only deciding factor in who became the next Iron Chef, Alex Guarnaschelli would have been taking on all comers in Kitchen Stadium years ago.

Unfortunately for her, in Season 4 of the show, a poorly prepared piece of lobster led to her elimination and possibly the end of her dream to join the Chairman’s elite crew.

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Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 18th, 2013

Iron Chef Geoffrey ZakarianOne of the very great pleasures of the last few years has been getting to know Geoffrey Zakarian better, both personally and professionally.

While we may disagree a lot on the show, I have always been hugely impressed with his culinary talents and can now state, for a fact, there is no more-entertaining person on the planet with whom to break bread off set.

As Iron Chef Zakarian prepares for another season of battles in Kitchen Stadium, I caught up with him (over a martini, of course) and demanded responses to these 10 probing questions.

Read the full interview

Plums — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, January 28th, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle PlumThere is rarely a time when the large bowl in my kitchen is not filled with whatever fruity delights are in season. And when I’m worn out by my travels, it’s a delicious piece of fruit that I crave more than anything else to restore my good humor.

Of the many different types of fruit I love, it is the appearance of sweet, juicy plums at my local farmers’ market that excites me the most. This is not only because they are so good when eaten raw, but also because I love to cook with them.

I definitely picked up some new ideas for my kitchen from Iron Chef Symon and his recent challenger, Chef Tio, and I hope they will inspire you too to make even more of the huge variety of plums available today.

What are plums?

Plums, or prunus domestica, are part of the family of drupe fruits. This is a genus of plant where the seed is protected by a hard shell and, just like plums, includes peaches, cherries and almonds.

Simon breaks down the Secret Ingredient

10 Interesting Facts About Tea — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Drinks, Shows, January 21st, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle TeaAs a very proud Englishman, I know that it is tea rather than blood that flows through my veins and that it’s a very rare day indeed when I don’t pop the kettle on the stove for a nice strong “cuppa” to fortify me through a long day of work.

Although I was disappointed not to be asked to judge this particular battle in Kitchen Stadium, I was just as keen as everyone else to see what magic Iron Chef Forgione and his challenger, Chef Kittichai could come up with to give inspiration on new ways to use one of my own kitchen essentials.

Here are 10 interesting facts that you might not know about tea:

1. The word tea comes from the Chinese T’e, which was the word in the Amoy dialect for the plant from which tea leaves came. In Mandarin, the word was ch’a, which is where the words char and chai are derived from.

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