ICA: Zakarian vs. Casanova

Iron Chef America

In his debut battle, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian takes on Challenger Chef Victor Casanova. Judges are Karine Bakhoum, Art Smith and Jill Zarin. Chef Casanova is Executive Chef at Culina, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills.

Victor CasanovaOver the years, Victor Casanova trained and developed his craft in some of the country’s best restaurants. Fresh out of culinary school, Casanova honed his skills at celebrated establishments such as the French-American DB Bistro Moderne and the American Gramercy Tavern. He was sous-chef at New York’s Ocean Grill and Las Vegas’ Neros at Caesars Palace and spent four years at Buca Giovanni in San Francisco, where he designed a boutique all-Italian wine list while executing a daily farmers’ market menu. He commenced his Italian training with Chef Casare Casella at New York’s renowned Beppe, then advanced it further under Chef Scott Conant at the chic, Northern Italy-influenced Alto.

After his salad days and a whirlwind culinary tour through the Big Apple, Casanova headed west to claim the post of chef de cuisine of Il Terrazzo in Scottsdale’s Phoenician Resort, where he quickly earned rave reviews. So, what’s his secret? Fuggedaboudit, he’ll never tell.

Casanova’s ongoing love affair with Italian food was ignited by Casella at Beppe, where he learned the spirit of the authentic Italian kitchen, an equally authentic passion for cooking and the flavourful secrets of Tuscan cuisine. Most of all, as Casanova conveys on each and every plate at Culina, Italian fare is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. This emphasis on seasonality, quality, simplicity and passion infuses the philosophy he brings to Culina, Modern Italian.

Chef Victor Casanova gets the honor of facing the newest Iron Chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, making his debut in Battle: Brook Trout.  In Zakarian’s corner is quite the sous chef, none other than Alex Guarnaschelli.

Check below for the outcome.

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Zakarian            Casanova
Taste: 30                Taste: 26
Plating: 15              Plating: 14
Originality: 15        Originality: 13
Total: 60                 Total: 53

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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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