ICA: Morimoto vs. Wadi

This week is another new Iron Chef: America as the senior Iron Chef, Morimoto, pits his cutting-edge Japanese style against Chef Sameh Wadi’s Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors.

When one thinks of Minneapolis the thoughts that spring to mind are of Prince, Brett Farve and the Mall of America.  It is a classic mid-western city with a strong football pedigree and a no-nonsense attitude.  Seldom does anyone think, “I am seriously Jonesing for some Moroccan food. I’ve got to get to Minneapolis!”

Chef Sameh Wadi is changing that at his Warehouse District eatery Saffron Restaurant & Lounge.  Owned by Chef Wadi and his brother Saed, Saffron has been rocking the Twin Cities since 2007.  The accolades have been many like being named one of Zagat’s top American restaurants for 2009 and 2010 and James Beard nominations for “Rising Star Chef” in 2008 and 2009.  Chef Wadi has even started his own line of exotic spices, Spice Trail.  All this he has accomplished before age 25.

Some of Chef Wadi’s celebrated dishes include the Lamb BLT (named one of Serious Eats’ Serious Sandwiches), fig-kissed quail and Salmon & Clam Tagine.  The buzz about Saffron and the Wadi Brothers has spread from coast-to-coast as they have taken the essence of the Middle East and fused it with Minnesota specialties like duck and salmon.

Now with a chance to spotlight his talents on a national stage, Wadi is poised to join the elite of American chefs.  Wadi spoke about the opportunity telling the Star Tribune, “I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I’ve been watching Iron Chef since I was 14.”   Below is a video feature on Saffron complete with an interview of the Wadi Brothers.  The episode airs Jan. 24 at 9:00 PM ET/PT.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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