jose garces

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

Next Iron Chef 4 Lineup Announced

NIC4 Banner

This cast is sick!  Easily the best line-up since NIC 1 which included John Besh, Aaron Sanchez, Chris Cosentino and eventual winner Michael Symon to name a few.  Here’s the official press release:

Food Network Selects Roster of Ten Superstar Chefs for the Ultimate Culinary Battle – Each Looking to Become The Next Iron Chef.

Elite Chefs Go Knife-to-Knife in High-Stakes Challenge to Become ‘The Next Iron Chef’

Hosted by Alton Brown, Season Four Set to Premiere Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET/PT

NEW YORK – April 18, 2011 – Food Network, the leader in food and lifestyle entertainment, today announced the all-star casting and start of production for the ultimate season of The Next Iron Chef. Slated for premiere on Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET/PT, Alton Brown will again host this 8-episode, top-rated series, which will shoot in Los Angeles and New York. The elite cast includes ten renowned chefs:

  • Anne Burrell – Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)
  • Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant (Napa Valley), Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello (Cooking Channel)
  • Elizabeth Faulkner – Citizen Cake, Orson (San Francisco), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
  • Alex Guarnaschelli – Butter, The Darby (New York), Alex’s Day Off, Chopped (Food Network)
  • Chuck Hughes – Garde Manger (Montreal), Chuck’s Day Off (Cooking Channel), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
  • Robert Irvine – Robert Irvine’s eat! (Hilton Head Island), Dinner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)
  • Beau MacMillan – Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Phoenix), Challenge, Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
  • Spike Mendelsohn – Good Stuff Eatery (Washington D.C.), Kelsey & Spike Cook (
  • Marcus Samuelsson –Red Rooster Harlem (New York), 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)
  • Geoffrey Zakarian – The National, The Lambs Club (New York), 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)

Judges include the original ‘Next Iron Chef’ Michael Symon, esteemed food journalist Simon Majumdar and UK Iron Chef Judy Joo.

In The Next Iron Chef, the contestants bet on their culinary skills and put their reputations on the line for the chance to compete in legendary Kitchen Stadium. The winner will join the ranks of chefs including Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Masaharu Morimoto and Symon as a member of the Chairman’s team on Iron Chef America.

Hmm, no mention of Cat Cora.  Very curious, perhaps she is leaving ICA?

Be sure to read my interviews with NIC1 winner Michael Symon HERE, NIC3 winner Marc Forgione HERE and Chopped judge and NIC4 contestant Alex Guarnaschelli HERE.

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ICA: Garces vs. Paley

NewICAHeader ICA: Cora vs. Schneider

Challenging Chef Vitaly Paley abandoned a career behind the piano for a career behind the burners. Will he play a song of victory against Iron Chef Garces?

“With corporate chains and noisy mega-restaurants dominating the American dining scene, Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon, is a refreshing change. By opening a restaurant with only 50 seats, Vitaly and Kimberly Paley have made a commitment to creativity and flexibility in cuisine, sophistication in service, and intimacy in the dining experience. The warm environment can be enjoyed via the front porch, open air patio, bar/bistro, both dining rooms.”

Chef Vitlay PaleyThose are the words from the web site of Chef Vitaly Paley’s landmark West Coast eatery and they go a long way in explaining Paley’s approach.  Chef Vitaly has spent a lifetime in the mega-cities of food, New York and Paris, including stops at Union Square Café and Remi and Chanterelle.  But it was a job with World Yacht Cruises that changed his life forever as that is where he met his wife and partner Kimberly.  The two then worked together at famed Michelin two-star restaurant Moulin de la Gorce, just outside of Limoges, France.

But there is more to the Ukrainian immigrant than just a master touch with a spatula.  In his youth he was a child prodigy on the piano and ultimately spent a few years studying at the famed Julliard school in New York.  Today Paley is an avid road cyclist who makes his own energy bars and sports drinks (recipes available HERE).

Chef Paley will need to bring all of his talents when he enters Kitchen Stadium where Iron Chef Jose Garces awaits him.

The winner of Battle: Raddish . . .

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Garces                    Paley
Taste: 22                Taste: 27
Plating: 12              Plating: 11
Originality: 12         Originality: 13
Total: 46                 Total: 51

ICA: Garces vs. Medina – Outcome

NewICAHeader ICA: Flay vs. Hughes   Outcome

SPOILER ALERT: The following information is the outcome of Garces vs. Medina.  If you want information on the combatants click HERE.  If you are only interested in the outcome read on.

Judges for Battle: Mexican Chocolate were John O’Hurley, Karine Bakhoum, Michael and Rick Mast.

Garces               Medina
Taste: 34         Taste: 37
Plating: 18       Plating: 18
Originality: 20   Originality: 16
Total: 72          Total: 71

Next time it’s Iron Chef Michael Symon vs. the youngest (and possibly hottest) chef to ever enter Kitchen Stadium, 24-year-old chef Emma Hearst.

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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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