Monday, February 19, 2007

Come suck on my salty potato balls

This past Saturday saw the arrival of the first ghetto-style Iron Chef. It was an epic battle, full of drama, excitement, suspense and potatoes!

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Iron Chef, allow me to explain. First of all, if you’ve never heard of Iron Chef then you need to immediately run back into your cave and wait for the second coming of Christ, because right now you’re pretty useless to society. But enough of my cleverly-worded insults to people I don’t know.

Iron Chef was a show that first started in Japan last century. It was hosted by the flaming and flamboyant Chairman Kagi, a guy who takes ridiculously large bites from raw bell peppers and who probably spends most of his time hanging out with Siegfried, Roy and their harem of tigers. Seriously, men should not wear that much glitter and sparkly shit.

The Chairman is also apparently rich and loves to spend his money on ventures that amuse him, which is what led to the creation of Kitchen Stadium, a place where he could pit two world-renowned chefs against each other in a battle to the death! Well, not actually to the death, but certainly to a severe bruising. He had four champion chefs, the “Iron Chefs,” all Japanese and all with different specialties. One was a master of Chinese cooking, one Japanese, one French and one Italian. Each week a random chef from some random eight star restaurant would show up at Kitchen Stadium and challenge one of the chefs to a battle. Each battle was an hour long and featured a secret ingredient that the chefs didn’t know about until the battle had begun. The ingredient had to be used in new and creative ways in each dish. Then four judges would be given the dishes and would rate them based on creativity, originality and appearance (and use of unnatural, uncooked sea creatures). The winner would then leave Kitchen Stadium in a daze, wondering just what the hell that had all been about and what the prize was, (if my memory serves me correctly the winner didn’t get much of anything, maybe, after the show they took the winner to his/her new double sized apartment, 10’ by 10’ instead of 5’ by 5’. People who live in Japan know what I’m talking about here with the tiny apartments!)

A few years ago they brought the show to America with different chefs and its hosted by the guy who played the Crow in the television series, (a little bit of useless knowledge for ya there.)

But enough background. Go youtube it to see what the hell I’m talking about. Anyway, back to my story.

We decided to do our own Iron Chef, though, of course, some changes had to be made. There is no Kitchen Stadium, at least, not one in this county, so the two contestants had to cook in their own kitchens and bring the dishes to a third, neutral kitchen. There were two hours to cook instead of one, and the cooks had to supply all of their ingredients, (except for the secret ingredient.) And there were three judges, who each could give one hundred possible points, 30 on plating, 30 on originality/theme and 40 on taste.

And so it began. Two men entered, one man left. Then the other man left a couple minutes later once he was done in the bathroom.

It was I, Joshua, Chef of the Eighty-Four Glyde and some other guy that I think they found on the street. Which made it a very uneven battle. I had no competition. Kidding, of course! No, my opponent was my friend Jay, (who I’m sure will pipe up in the comments). I must give Jay credit, I didn’t really think that he would be much competition, after all, I’ve got years of professional cooking experience, I’ve been a line cook, or short-order cook for years. I know my way around a kitchen. Not to mention (as one can tell by the pictures) that I love to cook and eat. So I figured that it would be a walk in the park. But I was mistaken. So very, very mistaken.

Our secret ingredient was potato. An interesting choice that could lead to some interesting dishes. Let the battle begin. Allez Cuisine!

Jay presented his dishes before the judges first and it made me nervous when I heard what he had prepared. He started off with two chicken breasts sandwiched together with cheese and mashed sweet potato with boiled sweet potato relish. He then followed up with french fries and minced potato with feta cheese. Next were some scalloped red potatoes. And lastly, he finished off with apple turnovers. The turnovers didn’t actually have potato in them, they were just used to bribe the judges (in my opinion.)

Jay’s dishes were good, well thought out and tasty. His strength came in bring out sauces to mix with the dishes. He had honey ginger sauce and a chili sauce. He didn’t make the sauces, but he used them wisely.

I countered with a golden potato soup as an appetizer. Then I brought out a plate of fried potato, sweet potato and plantain. Then I finished it all with my coup-de-grace of rack of lamb over rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes all on a bed of dandelion leaves. This last dish I paired up with the judges’ choice of red wine or Absinthe.

The food we made was devoured by judges and onlookers alike. And as the chefs stood around in sweaty anticipation, the judges spent what seemed like hours deliberating. It was maddening! To be honest I felt that my second dish was weak, and I had no idea what my soup tasted like, because didn’t even eat it!

Eventually the judges left their deliberation chamber and confronted the chefs to render their decision. It was a close one, very close. It was a less than 20-point difference. 255 to 232. Who was the winner? Who do you think, you foolish fools! I walked away that day a victor. It was my cuisine that reigned supreme!

And I’m almost one hundred percent sure that it wasn’t me who gave that one judge food poisoning.

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