ICA: Garces vs Yang
Tonight sees the debut of Next Iron Chef winner Jose Garces. Garces beat out nine other prominent chefs last summer to take the highly coveted spot in the “veritable pantheon” that is Kitchen Stadium. Garces is actually 2-0 in Kitchen Stadium after defeating Iron Chef Bobby Flay in 2008 and edging Chef Jehangir Mehta in the NIC finale last year.
The Iron Chef’s first opponent is no “Glass Joe”. Rachel Yang of Seattle’s popular Joule has worked for the likes of Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse. It was while working for the latter at the Essex House in New York that Chef Yang met her future husband and Joule co-owner Seif Chirchi. Chirchi will be serving his wife in the battle as sous chef. Yang’s style is a fusion a Korean and classic French cuisine.
Of Ecuadoran descent, Iron Chef Garces was born and raised in Chicago. However, today he makes his home in Philadelphia where he is the creative force behind five restaurants that explore various Latin cuisines from the Basque region (Tinto) to Mexico’s interior (Distrito) to Chifa which is both a Latin-Asian fusion cuisine popular in Peru and the name of the restaurant. Garces also guides the kitchen at Mercat a la Planxa, a Catalan restaurant in Chicago.
Garces’ first restaurant, Amada (an authentic Andalusian tapas bar) opened in 2005. 2008 was a very busy year. Not only did he appear on Iron Chef but he also published his first cookbook, Latin Evolution. Additionally, two of his restaurants (Distrito, Mercat a la Planxa) were named to Esquire Magazine’s list of the 20 Best New Restaurants. In just five years, Garces has gone from rookie restaurateur to Iron Chef.
The judges for the episode are PR magnate Jennifer Baum, restaurateur and general hottie Donatella Arpaia, and legendary chef Jose Andres. The theme ingredient was a Hawaiian moi.