ICA: Garces vs. Casella

NewICAHeader ICA: Morimoto vs. Tila

Iron Chef Jose Garces takes on master Italian Chef Cesare Casella in a seafood duel.

Chef Cesare Casella is one of the leading masters of Italian cuisine in the New World.  After a stellar career in some of the world’s best restaurants Casella is today the Dean of Italian Studies at The Italian Culinary Academy (sister school to The French Culinary Institute).

Casella was 14 when he enrolled in culinary school, Culinary Institute Ferdinando Martini in Montecatini, Italy.  After finishing school the chef turned his family’s restaurant (Vipore) in Lucca into and international Cesare Caselladestination.  His extensive use of herbs helped him lead Vipore from being just a quint local eatery to a Michelin starred restaurant attracting celebrities from Hollywood and power brokers like Henry Kissinger. Casella’s devotion to fresh herbs has manifested itself in his signature move of stuffing a handful into the pen pocket of his chef coat.

In 1993 Casella brought his skills to the Big Apple where he was named executive chef at Coco Pazzo.  The American pension for entrepreneurship soon enveloped the chef as he opened first his own restaurant, Beppe and then a company dedicated to importing Italian heirloom beans, grains and spices called Republic of Beans.  In 2005 he opened his masterpiece, Maremma in the West Village.

Maremma earned the chef more accolades like Top 5 “Best New Restaurants” and “Best Mac-n-Cheese” from New York Magazine.  He was featured on TV in an episode of After Hours with Daniel Boulud (the best food show of all time) and Dan Rather Reports.  All of this lead to Maremma earning three stars from Forbes Magazine.

It is usually the challenger who comes into Kitchen Stadium as the underdog but I don’t believe that to be case this time.  I certainly would not call the Iron Chef an underdog but it certainly seems to be an even match-up at the very least.  I know with the gravitas the challenger has in Italian cuisine it would have been nice to see Mario Batali dust off the orange Crocs for this one.

The judges for Battle: Hawaiian Snapper were Ben Sargent, Donatella Arpaia and Yefim Bronfman.

Check below for the outcome.

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Garces              Casella
Taste: 30                Taste: 28
Plating: 15              Plating: 13
Originality: 15        Originality: 13
Total: 60                 Total: 54

3 Responses to ICA: Garces vs. Casella

  • fifteenspatulas says:

    WOW a perfect score? How often does that happen in Kitchen Stadium? I don't recall ever seeing one, but I haven't seen all the episodes. Chef Garces is really proving himself as an Iron Chef!

    • Alton said this is only the second time that Iron Chef America has had a perfect score, but I cannot find the other. I do see where Morimoto has scored 59 twice and Bobby Flay did it once. It is possible that the other perfect score came in one of the special episodes where there were more than three judges. Those are scored differently.

      Garces has now been apart of the lowest scoring verdict on ICA and the highest scoring. He won both.

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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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