candice kumai

ICA: Forgione vs. Curtin

Iron Chef Marc Forgione

After a handful of holiday themed battles between Iron Chefs we return to the familiar format.  This time, Iron Chef Marc Forgione battles young New York-based chef Nick Curtin in Kitchen Stadium.

Nick Curtin Iron Chef AmericaThe story on challenger Nick Curtin is brief.  The one adjective that seems to always accompany his name is “young.”  Curtin was, for a while, the head chef at Compose in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood.  The chef (23) teamed up with 25-year-old manager Eamon Rockey for a ballsy concept at Compose – a mandatory 10-course tasting menu, serving no more than 12 people a night.  Thanks to Curtin’s creativity it worked.

But in June Chef Curtin announced his departure from Compose saying, “I decided it’s time to pursue another type of project, some place with a larger kitchen, a place that would allow me to experience the growth I want.”  A disciple  of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Curtin worked for the legendary chef at Perry St.  Chef Nick also spent time in the kitchen of René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen – the same Noma that recently supplanted el Bulli as the world’s best restaurant.  He was also part of the staff at Eleven Madison Park which Frank Bruni described as “alluring and impressive.”

Tonight the “young” chef Curtin battles the youngest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione.  Although Chelsea Market is only about two and a half miles from TriBeCa, Compose is a world away from Kitchen Stadium.  Be sure to check out my interview with Iron Chef Marc Forgione (HERE).

The judges for Battle: Tilapia were Julie White, John Curtas and Candice Kumai.

Check below for the outcome.

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Forgione            Curtin
Taste: 26                Taste: 22
Plating: 13              Plating: 14
Originality: 13        Originality: 13
Total: 52                 Total: 49

ICA: Morimoto vs. Symon

NewICAHeader ICA: Flay/Symon vs. Morimoto/Cora

There are few things better than an Iron Chef on Iron Chef show down.  Tonight a special Iron Chef featured a Christmas showdown with Michael Symon taking on the old master, Masaharu Morimoto in Battle: Alton Brown’s Fruit Cake.  Judges were Candice Kumai, Karl Wente and Donatell Arpaia.

These types of battles are always fun.  There’s no mystery – you know in advance who the competitors are, what the theme is and all that is left is to make some of the best Christmas dinner ever.  Ever.  Let the battle begin.

Check below for the outcome.

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Symon               Morimoto
Taste: 27                Taste: 29
Plating: 13              Plating: 14
Originality: 11        Originality: 13
Total: 51                Total: 56

Food Network’s Extreme Chef Premieres June 30th

Food Network Press Release:


Extreme ChefFood Network takes chefs out of their kitchen comfort zone in new primetime series Extreme Chef premiering Thursday, June 30th at 10pm ET/PT. Hosted by TV veteran and seasoned world traveler Marsh Mokhtari, each episode pushes three chefs to their physical and mental limits as they must adjust to extreme conditions and unpredictable curve-balls such as swimming across a lake for ingredients and using a car engine as a makeshift stove. Whether extracting ingredients from a block of ice or using a pocket knife as a lone cooking utensil, each of the eight episodes in season one follows three culinary pros as they navigate this over-the-top contest vying for $10,000 and the coveted title of Extreme Chef.

With three challenges per episode, the competitors’ wits, adaptability and artistry are tested as they must cook up a way to showcase their creative chops while surviving the ultimate competition. With minimal time to complete each challenge, speed counts but quality matters most in the end. After the first two challenges, one chef is eliminated and the two remaining competitors battle in the ultimate showdown. From beaches and farms to ghost towns and mountains, Extreme Chef takes the competitors to obscure locations for each out-of-the-box challenge, like cooking a meal on a deserted island, preparing a perfect block party in a torrential downpour and gathering ingredients from a bucket of rattlesnakes.

The season’s competitors hail from across the country and span the culinary spectrum. From restaurateurs to executive chefs, these kitchen masters will need their varied perspectives and cooking styles to tackle seemingly unthinkable tasks. Leading the competitors through this jaw-dropping journey is host Marsh Mokhtari, a U.K. based adventure seeker and host of several cable network travel and lifestyle specials. Notable judges from this season include: Simon Madjumdar (Next Iron Chef judge, food journalist), Josh Ozersky (food journalist), Marco Canora (Next Iron Chef finalist, restaurateur) and Candice Kumai (food writer).


Review: Unique Eats

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time I’m watching Unique Eats.

Unique Eats on WannabeTVchef.comI really, really like this show.  The formula is quite similar to the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, but it takes that idea to another level.  Best Thing was already one of my favorite shows but I think it just dropped a notch after checking out Unique Eats.

Where Best Thing is a series of interviews with culinary movers and shakers discussing one item from one restaurant that they love, Unique Eats features a gaggle of foodies discussing the same eatery and what they find intriguing about it.  Each episode is themed, Small Plates, Meats, Comfort Food, etc. with each cheflebrity pontificating about what they respect about the chosen purveyor.  These gastronomic round tables are made up of foodies, food writers, chefs and TV personalities.

Here’s how the network web site describes the show:

Unique Eats spotlights America’s most exciting and revolutionary restaurants. It’s the first look and the last word in everything extreme in food today. The locations range from high-end dining rooms to casual neighborhood treasures, and even roving eateries with no permanent addresses. We seek out the most amazing examples of modern dining across America.

The editing, the sound quality, the cinematography and especially the venues featured are the very essence of what food television should be.  If you prefer your food oriented programming to be about food rather than drama then you really need to watch Unique Eats.  As an added bonus, there is a place on the Cooking Channel web site that will help you plan a Unique Eats road trip.  Put that on your bucket list.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

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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