NIC 3

ICA: Forgione vs. Cooper – Outcome

iron chef America, wannabe tv chef

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

The judges for Battle: Bell Pepper were Karine Bakhoum, Adam Richman and Nigella Lawson

Forgione                      Cooper
Taste: 28                      Taste: 24
Plating: 12                    Plating:  13
Originality: 14               Originality: 8
Total: 54                      Total: 45

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my recent interview with the newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione HERE.

Next time Jose Garces vs. Mike Lata in Battle: Sparkling Wine.

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Inside Look: Next Iron Chef w/Marc Forgione

Who knew that when the Food Network started airing old reruns of the hit Japanese reality series Iron Chef back in the late 90’s that it would create a whole new genre within a genre?  That of course is the reality cooking competition.  After years of watching the overly dramatic, overdubbed and often sub-titled cooking competition the Network began wondering if they could pull off an American version of the show.  Thus we have Iron Chef: America.

ICA has proven to be such a hit that other networks began doing their own versions.  Bravo brought us Top Chef, Top Chef: Masters, and Top Chef: Just Desserts.  Fox has produced Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef.  NBC produced the short-lived Chopping Block.  Food Network, not to be out done, added Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Chopped, Next Food Network Star and Food Network Challenge to name a few.

But the problem with most of these shows is that they have tried to dazzle viewers with bizarre ingredients, screaming hosts and insultingly stupid challenges.  They also have forgotten that at its crux ICA was still a show about food not personalities.  To date, only one show comes close to matching the intensity and integrity of ICA and ironically it is the spin-off Next Iron Chef.

Next Iron Chef pits some of the best chefs in the country against one another to earn the title Iron Chef.  To date the contest has produced Michael Symon who is currently the winningest champion in the show’s history and a bona fide star.  It has also produced Jose Garces who has only tasted defeat twice.

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneMarc Forgione (chef/owner of Marc Forgione in New York) is the son of the “godfather of American cuisine” Chef Larry Forgione.  The younger Forgione has long been known as Larry’s son but that ended eight weeks ago when NIC began airing.  Today if you Google “Chef Forgione” the first page of results yields only one article about Larry and the rest are about his talented son.

Marc’s forte is New American cuisine of which Gael Greene says, “Not a molecular burp anywhere.  Just real food most food-obsessed New Yorkers want to eat.”  High praise from a high priestess of haute cuisine.  Though he began cooking professionally at age 16 with his famous father, Marc also did some time working with Michel Guerard in Eugenie les Bains, Patricia Yeo at AZ and Pazo, Laurent Tourondel at BLT Steak and with Puck disciple Kazuto Matsusaka .  He also graduated from the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at UMASS Amherst.

I was lucky enough to get to talk with Chef Forgione just days after his victory aired so that I could give fans an Inside Look at The Next Iron Chef.  So what was it like competing to the show?

To find out I started off my questions by asking Chef Forgione to describe the process beginning with his first contact with the Food Network to which he replied, “I got a phone call one day while I was at work.  They said this is the Food Network.  I wasn’t really sure where that was going to go.  The first interview was over the phone about a half an hour of me just speaking to a talent agent or talent scout.  And I guess I passed that test.

Iron Chef Marc Forgione“And then they call you in for the second round.  And in the second round you actually go in there, it’s pretty weird actually they take you into like a dark room and shine the light on you and you answer questions.  And then I just played the waiting game.  I didn’t find out until three days before the flight that I was going.  I was the last one on there.”

I then asked what emotions he felt as he entered the kitchen for that very first challenge.  He offered, “You know we were already in LA for two days at that point, maybe three.  We were all staying at the same hotel so we all got to meet each other and we went out to eat.  At that point we were just hanging out.

“Then all of a sudden the Chairman comes out and when he looked at all of us and said, when I heard the sentence, you know what I mean, one of you will be the next Iron Chef I got goose bumps and all of the hair stood up on my neck.  It was go time.”  And then he described his feelings for that first challenge, “It was adrenaline, passion, excitement, a little bit of anxiety.”

On what makes the title Iron Chef special Forgione said, “When you hear the word Iron Chef to me the words that come up right away are respect and honor.  I’m a very competitive person by nature anyway.  So for me this is one of those things where it’s either put up or shut up with your food.  There’s no gray area.”  He added, “Anybody can talk the talk but this is actually your opportunity to get up there and show your stuff.”

According to Forgione the nightly group meals were almost as interesting as the on-camera battles, “You think it’s hard to cook for maybe one chef that’s coming into to eat at your restaurant imagine that 10-top coming in to eat at your place.”  Adding, “Obviously once a couple of drinks got into everybody it always got interesting.”

Asked which challenge on the show was the hardest Chef Marc quickly answered, “By far the hardest for me was the buffet challenge.”  He then revealed that half way through that battle he ripped his pants wide open, “They don’t stop the clock for anything so I had to adjust my apron to cover my derriere.”

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneChef Forgione then describe his final battle with Chef Marco Canora, “Sitting back here the other night watching it.  You know I knew we were doing two opposite things obviously while it was going on but to really watch it. It wasn’t just a battle of Thanksgiving it was almost a battle of like, well Alton Brown said it best, ‘Which do you want to go with?  Do you want to go with unpredictable genius or safe and soulful.’  He cooked safe and soulful and I cooked unpredictable genius.  It was kind of a microcosm of the whole thing.”

When asked if he had changed his approach in his first defense as an Iron Chef, Forgione replied, “I actually made a point to attack it exactly the same – I don’t know if gusto is the right word – but I made sure to stay true to what got me there.”

Chef Marc Forgione enters Kitchen Stadium for the first time as an Iron Chef Sunday night to do battle with Chef R J Cooper.  The episode premieres on the Food Network at 10/9 central.  For more on that click HERE.

All photos courtesy of the Food Network.

ICA: Forgione vs. Cooper

iron chef America, wannabe tv chef

The ninth season of Iron Chef America is here and it features a battle between Chef RJ Cooper and Next Iron Chef 3 winner Marc Forgione. You’ll also notice a slight format change. After each chef presents their menu the Chairman then asks the panel for their overall opinion of the meal.

RJ Cooper of Rogue 24Chef RJ Cooper, formerly of Vidalia in Washington DC, is the chef/owner of Rogue 24 –  an ultra high end eatery in the nation’s capitol.  As it stands now, Rogue 24 is the most expensive restaurant in the Beltway but the clientele has no issues with doling out the high prices.  Let’s face it, the clientele is made up of politicians who are either putting the tab on their Congressional accounts or having it picked up by lobbyists looking to subvert the democratic process.

Cooper is a James Beard Award winner originally from Detroit.  He attended the The Culinary School at Kendall College in Illinois before moving to Atlanta to work with Daniel Schaffhauser at The Ritz Carlton.  He has also worked with Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin and he was in charge of the Crow’s Nest Restaurant in The Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska.  He eventually found himself at Vidalia in 2004 but left this past summer to open his own place.

His opponent will be Next Iron Chef 3 winner Marc Forgione who makes his first appearance in Kitchen Stadium as an Iron Chef.  To battle the newest Iron Chef, Cooper appointed Rogue 24’s chef de cuisine Harper McClure along with notable DC pastry chef and long-time friend David Guas of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery.

Cooper and Guas are long time friends as well as comrades in the kitchen at countless charitable events over the past 10 years. In celebration of this exciting event, Cooper is hosting a benefit for Chefs as Parents (a chef driven, non-profit organization that is working to improve the quality of school lunch programs) coinciding with the premiere.  With a $50 donation per person, attendees can enjoy savory hors d’oeuvres from each of the renowned chefs in addition to a mouth watering array of fresh Mid-Atlantic oysters provided by Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC at a special viewing party that will be held from 8pm -12am at Long View Gallery (1234 9th St., NW), a Blagden Alley neighbor of Rogue 24.

The judges for Battle: Bell Pepper were Karine Bakhoum, Adam Richman and Nigella Lawson

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my recent interview with the newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione HERE.

Click HERE for the outcome.

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Next Iron Chef 3 Finale – Outcome

SPOILER ALERT: The following information is the outcome of Canora vs. Forgione for the title Next Iron Chef. If you want informaNIC Finaletion on the combatants click HERE. If you are only interested in the outcome read on.

The judges for Battle: Ultimate Thanksgiving Feast were Donatella Arpaia and Simon Majumdar plus Iron Chefs Michael Symon, Bobby Flay and Morimoto.

Congratulations to the Next Iron Chef. . .

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Marc Forgione

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/MarcForgione/status/7162036848955393″]

Did you miss an episode of NIC because you were helping count write-in votes in Alaska?  No problem, you can get caught up HERE.  Be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with Celina Tio (HERE), Mary Dumont (HERE) and Maneet Chauhan (HERE).

Be sure to check out new Iron Chef Marc Forgione in his first title defense next Sunday night against Chef RJ Cooper.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my recent interview with the newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione HERE.

Photo courtesy of the Food Network.

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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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