julie white

ICA: Garces vs. Weitzman

garces banner ICA: Garces vs Becker

Iron Chef Jose Garces faces off against challenger Rebecca Weitzman. Chef Weitzman is the executive chef at Redwood Kitchenette in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The judges for Battle: Silkie Chicken are Karine Bakhoum, Art Smith, and Julie White.

Chef Rebecca WeitzmanChef Weitzman grew up just outside of Boston but has made her bones working in some of the most well respected kitchens in the Big Apple.  That includes time spent working for chef Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill, Bolo and Bar Americain as well as ‘inoteca Restaurant.  Pedigreed toque Rebecca Weitzman made her name thrilling Park Slopers with locavore plates at Thistle Hill Tavern (where she is still partner, though no longer head chef). After a brief stint at gourmand movie-theater café Indie Food and Wine, the CIA grad has turned up at the cheery Chelsea diner, sporting redwood paneling, U-shaped teal banquettes and a blown-up vintage photo of a trailer amid crisp fall foliage, plus an actual shiny Airstream trailer retrofitted to serve as a bar.

If Chef Rebecca looks familiar to Food Network viewers it’s because she competed on Chopped back in 2010 on an episode called “First Things Worst.”  There she took home the win making a dessert that included baby bananas, coconut flakes, pumpernickel rye and soy sauce.  Hopefully that experience will translate into a solid performance in Kitchen Stadium but it won’t be easy as Iron Chef Jose Garces will be waiting.

Check below for the outcome.

9999 ICA: Garces vs Becker

Garces Weitzman
Taste 27 22
Plating 15 12
Originality 15 11
Total 57 45

ICA: Zakarian vs. Schenker

zacbanner ICA: Zakarian vs. FerraroIron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian faces off against chef Jesse Schenker, chef and owner of Recette in New York. Judges are Julie White, Art Smith and Anya Fernald.

Jesse SchenkerChef Jesse Schenker manipulates ingredients and temperature to create maximum flavor.   He went for his Culinary Degree at the Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla. During that time, he gained his first professional kitchen experience at Cafe Maxx, guided by Chef Oliver Saucy. From there, he became the Chef de Partie at Chef Mark Militello’s James Beard award-winning restaurant, Mark’s on Las Olas and then onto Sous Chef at Fort Lauderdale’s celebrated Italian restaurant Rino’s Restaurante.

With experience under his belt, Jesse moved to Miami to become Sous Chef at the upscale wine bar, City Cellar Wine Bar and Grille.  After wowing the best culinary cities of Florida, it was time to take on the challenge of wowing foodies in the Big Apple. Jesse was offered a position as Chef de Partie at the two-Michelin-star rated Gordon Ramsay at the London.  He launched his own venture, Recette Private Dining and teamed up with Savoy Bakery owner Brian Ghaw and Per Se pastry alum Christina Lee, and created up to ten-course tasting menus for exclusive private parties.

Chef Schenker is a talented chef but so is the newest Iron Chef.  The Technician is sure to be ready for the challenge in Battle: Plantains.

Check below for the outcome.

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Zakarian Schenker
Taste 25 25
Plating 13 14
Originality 14 14
Total 52 53

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. Tila

NewICAHeader ICA: Symon vs. Johnson

Challenging Chef Jet Tila holds the Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Stir Fry. Will he throw Iron Chef Morimoto into the blazing wok, or will he be tossed to the flames?

Chef Jet Tila is extremely well respected throughout the world.  That’s probably an understatement.  Chef Jet’s Vegas restaurant Wazuzu is one of the top draws in Sin City and his prowess has seen him make guest appearances on Top Chef, The Best Of, Food Finds, The Secret Life Of, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Take Home Chef, Smart Solutions, Weekend Entertaining and more.

Here’s a piece of his bio from his web site:

Jet Tila Iron ChefLearning family traditions from his Cantonese grandmother further piqued his interest and in his early teens, Jet was making appetizers at his family’s restaurants. At 22, he was teaching cooking classes in his backyard – a phenomenon that caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times. Jet’s Le Cordon Bleu education coupled with his extensive knowledge of Asian gastronomy has given him a wide range of ideas to draw upon and a broad framework to create incomparable and innovative cuisine. In culinary school, Jet began to develop his style by seeking novel and inventive approaches to Eastern ingredients using classical French technique. Jet has also completed an intensive study program at the California Sushi Academy. Jet has written two cover stories and several articles for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times and has been featured in Los Angeles magazine.

I have yet to enjoy the flavors of Iron Chef Morimoto but I have been lucky enough to try Chef Jet’s food.  It is tremendously light and fresh with spices that perfectly toe the line between flavorful and delicate.  I would have killed a drifter to have been a judge on Battle: Seaweed.  But I wasn’t; Stefan Gates, Julie White and Michael Fernandez were.

Check below for the outcome.

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Morimoto             Tila
Taste: 27                Taste: 26
Plating: 14              Plating: 12
Originality: 14       Originality: 13
Total: 55                Total: 51

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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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