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Iron Chef Boyardee

Our man Sietsema opens up a can of worms

From Morimoto came a simple kanpachi tempura served with doctored ketchup; a finely minced kanpachi tartare with dabs of five colorful garnishes that looked particularly delicious; a partly cooked sashimi with freshly grated green wasabi; a fish rubbed with five-spice powder, roasted whole while suspended from hooks in the convection oven—which provided a great visual, and elicited sardonic quips from Alton, who seems to have a taste for S&M (the quips didn't appear in the final edit); seared kanpachi with daikon in braising liquid; and a kanpachi rice dish with raw egg yolk and shreds of nori. As portions of the whole fish were served, Morimoto grabbed a white truffle from his pocket and ostentatiously grated it over the top of each serving. Hey, anything would taste better with fiendishly expensive white truffle grated over it! And the truffle never appeared on the table of raw materials, of course. Were they afraid an Oompa-Loompa might filch it?

Several of Nicotra's dishes were based on an odd fish-and-mascarpone mousse. In order, they were: a "saketini" served in a small martini glass; a tour de force tasting platter with several small dishes, such as fish-mousse crostini, raw fish crudo served on a warmed cedar plank (and flinging off a woodsy odor), and a California roll substituting bread for rice; seared kanpachi with fennel salad in yellow-tomato vinaigrette, goosed with a bizarrely expensive 25-year-old balsamic (which also didn't come from the table); the same mousse wrapped in alternating slices of potato and sweet potato like an enchilada, and rolled inside a slice of speck skewered with a single piece of black squid-ink spaghetti; a dome of fish concealing a mozzarella motherlode dabbed with a white chowder sauce flavored with razor clams; and—most impressive of all—a roasted kanpachi tail served on a thick tile of pink Himalayan salt, sided with a bottle of single-estate virgin olive oil. The last two ingredients clearly never saw the surface of the ingredients table, either, and were further proof of the predeveloped state of the recipes and foreknowledge of the main ingredient.

The two hours of judging were a colossal bore, and several of the guests found ways of sneaking away. The only thing that kept me there was seeing who won. It was clear to me that in both enthusiasm, creativity, and raw talent, the challenger should have been the winner. Morimoto deployed recipes that seemed left over from the Nobu era; Nicotra took more chances. Need I mention that the "secret ingredient" was one that tremendously favored the Iron Chef? I should have had a premonition of the result from the judges' commentary. Ted Allen had made two pointedly negative observations about Nicotra's dishes, and had been overwhelmingly positive about everything Morimoto had done. The other two judges had been positive about nearly everything.

Local hero Fortunato Nicotra emerges from a foggy dimension.
Staci Schwartz
Local hero Fortunato Nicotra emerges from a foggy dimension.
No contest: Masaharu Morimoto seemed to have a distinct advantage over Nicotra.
Alex Oliveira/startracksphoto.com
No contest: Masaharu Morimoto seemed to have a distinct advantage over Nicotra.

When the champion was announced, Morimoto prevailed. As I watched the show one year later, I learned that the contest had been a rout, with Morimoto receiving 59 of 60 points, including a perfect 20 for taste. Poor Nicotra got only 51 points; he hadn't even come close. That afternoon in the studio, Iron Chef Morimoto stood impassively to receive his award, as if he couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. The audience was never given the actual scores. Instead, it was ushered out immediately and unceremoniously, since a second Iron Chef contest was about to be taped.

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4 comments
christian_rick
christian_rick

I've literally created an account, to let you know this is the 21st century and people don't want to read 14 pages of words, to get to the point. If you happened to scroll down to the comments before reading this insanely long and useless article I will sum it up.

1. Took a friend to the taping of the show, it's 1 hour on tv and idiotically he assumed it would take 1 hour to film.
2.Stunt Doubles for the chefs, He assumed that they picked the person right there on the spot, with no consideration that the other chefs might have something else to do.

So naturally the contestant told the producer who they wanted to battle ahead of time.


3. Secret Ingredient, isn't as secret as you assume, the producers have said that they give them a list of what it might be, Pork, Fish, Chicken, Beef etc etc. Allowing the for the chefs to use the most of their time, after all, have you ever prepaired 5 meals in 1 hour before with out a plan?


And that's really it, the show isn't an hour long, they use stunt doubles instead of making those chefs come in for 5 minutes, and leave if not picked, and the secret ingredient is told to them in a manner of speaking.

4. Takes 45 minutes to film each judging, so the second person going food might not taste as good thus giving it an unfair advantage. While you have a point here, what are they suppose to do, feed them every dish at once? Any real competition you have to hand your food in hot or cold, and its up to you to keep it that way.

So I hope this helped sum up this worthless article, about a guy who doesn't realize that a 1 hour tv show takes more time, than 1 hour.

darkwingdave
darkwingdave

I think the UnSecret Ingredient to this article is an overabundance of raw Snark with a side of bile.

crushcollective
crushcollective

you are full of hate...there are many, if not most, extremely talented chefs, in this world, that could not handle nor gracefully kiss this dancefloor. Does it really matter how long they have to bang out a 4-5 course offering of a random (sometimes cool and easy-ish, yet always difficult in its own numerous possibilities) ingredient?? take notes...or be dumb (cuz u shud know tv is full of lies) and hate (cuz u havent learned shit bout how hard cooking can be)

gettinsilly
gettinsilly

It seems to me that what this particular restaurant critic could use - apart from a bit more imagination - is a good literary critic.  That is some tortured prose.

 
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