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ICA: Flay vs. Hastings

Iron Chef Bobby FlayIron Chef Bobby Flay faces off against Challenger Chris Hastings, chef and owner at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Judges are Anthony Anderson, Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.

It has taken 12 years but there is finally a chef from Alabama battling in Kitchen Stadium.  Why is this a big deal?  Alabama has one of the richest food traditions in the country – West Indies Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, White BBQ Sauce, et al.  And what a chef they have chosen.

Christopher (along with wife Idie Hastings) is the chef and co-owner of the nationally celebrated Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.  Located in a historic Chef Chris Hastings Hot and Hot Fish Clubbuilding on Birmingham’s Southside, the award-winning restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the finest, freshest dishes in the region.

Hastings graduated from the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island and then returned to the South in 1984 to work at the Atlanta Ritz Carlton.  After stints at Highlands Bar and Grill and Botega, Chef Chris moved to San Francisco, where he helped Bradley Ogden open the Lark Creek Inn.

In 1995, the Hastings returned to Birmingham to open the Hot and Hot Fish Club where Chris focused on the dinner menu and Idie used her pastry experience (earned in the kitchens of Jeremiah Towers’ Stars Café and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio) to develop the dessert menu. Today, although the menus change daily to highlight the best possible products available, several signature items remain: the Hot and Hot Shrimp and Grits made with Country Ham, Fresh Thyme, Tomatoes and Ver Jus is always a favorite among the locals.

For more on Chef Christopher Hastings and the Hot and Hot Fish Club check out this great article from the Year of Alabama Food web site.

To see what happen when Hastings takes on Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Battle: Sausage tune into the Food Network this Sunday at 10/9 CT.  If you haven’t already be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Bobby Flay (HERE).

For the outcome check below.

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Flay                   Hastings
Taste: 29                Taste: 15
Plating: 12              Plating: 14
Originality: 11         Originality: 14
Total: 52                 Total: 53

ICA: Flay vs. Knibb

Iron Chef Bobby FlayWest coast chef, Jason Knibb challenges Bobby Flay to a special seafood showdown. Whose cuisine will reign supreme?

Chef Jason KnibbJason Knibb is the executive chef at NINE-TEN in La Jolla, CA and has been since 2003.  Prior to that the Jamaican born chef was the executive chef at Robert Redford’s Sundance Village where he oversaw all food & beverage operations located on the resort property, including the Foundry Grill and the renowned Tree Room restaurant. Knibb started his career working with Wolfgang Puck at L.A.‘s Eureka restaurant.

Chef Knibb has also logged time in the kitchens of Yamaguchi, Tournant and Rockenwagner.  His career has seen him work in Hawaii, Poland, Southern California and he was even profiled on Bobby Flay’s “Food Nation – Best of Utah” episode.  In 2009 Knibb was inducted into the San Diego Chef Hall of Fame – he was one of the first three chefs to be inducted.

Waiting for Knibb in Kitchen Stadium is Iron Chef Bobby Flay and his team of haute hotties Rene Forsberg and Christine Sanchez.  In 2007 I interviewed Bobby for ‘Zalea Magazine.  You probably can’find a copy of that issue anymore but you can enjoy the interview in my Kindle single Dinner Conversations: 39 Interviews with America’s Favorite Culinary Movers and Shakers.

The judges for Battle: Caviar were Cady Huffman, Simon Majumdar and Laura Calder.

Check below for the outcome.

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Flay                   Knibb
Taste: 19                Taste: 14
Plating: 12              Plating: 12
Originality: 13        Originality: 11
Total: 44                 Total: 38

ICA: Flay vs. Staib

NewICAHeader ICA: Cora vs. Carter

Philadelphia’s Walter Staib is a German-trained chef with a passion for food history. Will his battle against Iron Chef Flay go down in history as a thrilling victory or a crushing defeat?

Walter StaibChef Walter Staib is one of the most decorated chefs in America.  He’s been bringing home the hardware since the mid 1980’s and is still going strong, three awards already this year.  He’s been cooking professionally since taking his first job in 1960.  In the strictest European tradition it was an apprenticeship at the historic five-star Hotel Post in the Black Forest near Nagold, Germany.  Still in operation today, the hotel has played host to world leaders dating back to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Chef Staib made the rounds in Europe working in other restaurants in Germany as well as Switzerland, before taking his first US post at Chicago’s Mid America Club in 1969 and so on and so forth to England, Thailand, Brazil, France.  In 1989 he added hospitality consultant to his resume when he launched Concepts By Staib, Ltd.  Today he commands the kitchen at City Tavern Restaurant in Philadelphia and is the host of the Emmy winning A Taste of History.  He recently became an author with the publication of The City Tavern Cookbook: karRecipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine.

Chef Staib’s vaunted career has taken him all over the world spanning four continents but Kitchen Stadium is a different animal for there awaits Iron Chef Bobby Flay.  The judges for Battle: Short Ribs were Karine Bakhoum, Cady Huffman, John T Edge and Nina Griscom.

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Flay                   Staib
Taste: 34                Taste: 23
Plating: 17              Plating: 11
Originality: 18        Originality: 11
Total: 69                 Total: 45

ICA: Cora vs. Carter

NewICAHeader ICA: Morimoto vs. Tila

Chef Robert Carter enters Kitchen Stadium from his hometown of Charleston, SC, the “best-mannered city” in the US. Will he walk away from his battle with Iron Chef Cat Cora a gracious winner or a sore loser?

Southern by the grace of God, Chef Robert Carter started his culinary voyage in Charleston, SC back in the late 80’s when he attended Johnson & Wales University.  That’s the same Robert Cartercampus that gave us Emeril Legasse and Tyler Florence.  Chef Robert funded his matriculation by working as a private chef for one of those old school aristocratic Southern families.  So popular was his cooking that he parlayed that into a one-man catering company he called Rent-a-Chef.

After graduation, Carter apprenticed under certified master chef Victor Gielisse of Dallas.  Before long he was on everyone’s short list including one of the most revered restaurants in the country The Inn at Blackberry Farm in the Smokie Mountains of East Tennessee where he would serve as executive chef.  That is until leaving for Key West’s Café Marquessa.

Deep down inside he wanted to go back home to Charleston and as Bear Bryant once said, “When mama calls. . . .”  In 1997 he opened The Peninsula Grill with Hank Holliday which Esquire promptly named one of the Best New Restaurants of the Year.  The accolades have flowed in ever since.

Waiting for Chef Carter is Kitchen Stadium’s resident Southern Belle, Cat Cora.  Two questions loom over this battle – who’s cuisine reigns supreme and is this Cora’s last battle as an Iron Chef?

The judges for Battle: Okra were Anya Fernald, Lee Jones and Karine Bakhoum.

Check below for the outcome.

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Cora                  Carter
Taste: 23                Taste: 21
Plating: 13              Plating: 10
Originality: 13        Originality: 13
Total: 51                 Total: 44

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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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