Michael Symon still feels bad about getting chopped last season on Chopped All-Stars, but not because he’s a sore loser. The Iron Chef was competing for Autism Speaks, and says it still gets to him that he wasn’t able to win $50,000 for this charity that’s near and dear to his heart. “You feel like you’ve let down a greater cause, not just your own well-being,” he says. “It beat me up a little bit.”
Michael got his chance to give back by serving as the host of this year’s Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, which took place Tuesday in New York. More than 90 chefs from coast-to-coast, including fellow Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Next Iron Chef contender Nate Appleman, descended on Wall Street to cook for this worthy cause.
Chopped All-Stars is back for a second season, and this year’s tournament kicks off with some very heavy hitters. On Sunday night at 9pm/8c, four Iron Chefs will do battle outside their Kitchen Stadium comfort zone. Cat Cora, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces and Michael Symon are all determined to cook their hearts out and take home the win. Of course, only one of them will advance to the final round for a chance to score $50,000 for their charity of choice. Check out our list to see which charity each chef is playing for.
Needless to say, this round should be a nail-biter for judges Scott Conant, Aarón Sanchez and Geoffrey Zakarian. Who won’t make it past the appetizer round? Which two will go head-to-head on dessert? Tune in to watch four seasoned competitors throw down in the Chopped Kitchen this Sunday at 9pm/8c.
Join the #Chopped conversation on Twitter during Sunday’s episode.
- Would YOU want to be thown into the shark tank with this guy?
Facing down an Iron Chef is not for the faint of heart (or knife skills). When she got the call to kitchen stadium, Chef Amanda Cohen’s first reaction was “I don’t think so.”
Having just opened restaurant Dirt Candy in New York City’s East Village, Chef Cohen explains on her blog that she thought “they were looking for chumps to throw into the shark tank with their big time Iron Chefs and I didn’t want to be savaged and mauled on national TV.” However, as the first vegetarian chef asked to be on Iron Chef, she realized it gave her a platform to show that “Dirt Candy is just about food, and it’s about vegetarian food as nothing more than cooking vegetables – no politics, no health claims or virtuous living, just giving vegetables a chance to be treated as seriously as chefs treat pork.”
Pitted against Iron Chef Morimoto, Chef Cohen details her entire experience taping the show (which she calls an “epic tale”) on her blog, which we encourage you to read, as well as learn more about Cohen who also did stints at New York’s famous Angelica Kitchen and Teany.
Can the first vegetarian Chef in Iron Chef America history take down the near mythical Masaharu Morimoto? Tune in this Sunday, August 29 at 10pm/9c to Iron Chef America on Food Network and find out.
– Brandy Shearer
Jose Garces has a big Iron Chef America battle coming up Sunday night, but he’s already a winner in my book. Our newest Iron Chef hails from Philadelphia—a city I love dearly (I went to college there). Garces opened his first restaurant, Amada, in Old City just a few months before I graduated, but it quickly became one of my favorite spots. His mini-empire has proliferated since, with restaurants all over Philly and one in Chicago.
Just a couple of months ago, he opened up a new gourmet market/cafe called Garces Trading Company, and he’s got more ventures in the works. You may have seen him this week on Nightline, talking about Cinco de Mayo and his Latin roots. With all this plus his Next Iron Chef win last fall, I’d say Garces has experienced a pretty successful five years.
On a recent trip back to Philly, I was psyched to lunch at one of his latest ventures, Village Whiskey. While all of Garces’s other restaurants are Latin-inspired (Amada does tapas, Distrito is Mexican, Chifa has Peruvian influences…), Village Whiskey is unapologetically American. Think burgers. Pulled pork sandwiches. Lobster rolls. Chicken-fried steak.
Inside, the narrow space has a speakeasy feel, with white-tiled walls, dark leather banquettes and wooden fans spinning overhead. Obviously, there’s a long list of bourbon and Scotch. But we came for the food. Specifically, for the burger—the Philadelphia Inquirer has called it the city’s best.
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It’s 5am, and I am half asleep on a train to upstate NY to assist on my first promo shoot. We’re shooting a “How Do You Iron Chef” (HDYIC) interstitial at Suffern Middle School. Based on the show Iron Chef America, HDYIC interstitials show actual viewers holding their own Iron Chef competitions in their homes or communities. For the next two days, we’ll be capturing 11-14 year-olds battling each other with middle school coconut concoctions.
Just last week Secretary Confidential mentioned the baby boom happening in the Food Network offices…and then THIS week, our own Iron Chef Cat Cora announced that both her partner, Jennifer Cora, and she are expecting as well! Cat shares that they’ll be adding two more boys to their exisiting fam — that’s right their two sons, Zoran and Caje, will be big brothers to more brothers. You can check out Cat’s Myspace Blog for more deets.
Congrats, Cat and Jennifer!
Associate Producer, The FN Dish
What do you get when you mix breakfast cereal, a passion for food and a keen ability to multi-task? Rob Bleifer, the executive chef who manages 15 different Food Network shows. I caught up with Rob for a rapid-fire round:
Read more about this passionate, cereal-loving multi-tasker here.
On special occasions, FN offers private tours to visiting dignitaries, celebrity chefs and the like. One FN’er, Joe, takes time from his day job to lead this behind-the-scenes tour.
A recent tour-ist, Lana, suggested… “You could ask Joe what questions folks ask the most (during tours). I’ll bet it’d make an interesting read.” Good post, Lana. Thanks, Joe. Here goes:
Q) Who gets to eat the food?
A) Who ever is closest – studio crew etc… We only purchase food for what we are making that week and we donate to any extras to City Harvest each Friday.
Q) On Iron Chef America, do they know the secret ingredient?
A) Before the show, the chefs are told that it could be one from a list of items. The challenge is still amazingly difficult to pull off in an hour. Plus, the cameras never stop rolling…no matter what.
Q) Are all of the Iron Chefs here for each show?
A) When we shoot a battle, there is only one. The others are stand ins.
Q) What is the weirdest ingredient a challenger chef requested on Iron Chef?
A) Jose Andres – Goat testicles
Bonus fact — Our offices are on the site of the original Nabisco factory. The Oreo was invented here in 1912.
The FN Dish’s Bruce Seidel visits Iron Chef Cat Cora at a book signing and Bon Appétit culinary demo.
FN DISH CONTEST!
To win an autographed copy of Cat’s new book, Cooking from the Hip, tell us about your favorite Cat Cora recipe in the comments section below!
Contest Ends: Sunday, November 23, 11:59PM/10:59c
By entering a comment you are consenting to these contest rules.
New Iron Chef coats will be revealed during the Iron Chef America Thanksgiving battle Sunday, and we’re here to give you a sneak peek! To see more, watch as Bobby Flay and Michael Symon go head to head with Morimoto and Cat Cora, Sunday at 8:30pm/9:30c.