Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iron Chef, Southern Style.

We had fun last night. Our friend, Wynn the Wine Guy, invited us to a taping of a pilot for a t.v. show. It was a show some locals are trying to do based on, of course, Iron Chef. It starts with an interview with the challanger before the cook off. Sounded like a decent idea. Oh, that and we were on the guest list.

So we went. It was held at an event hall. It was like a large bar, with a double kitchen in the rear part of the building. Towards the front, two over-sized chairs were place side by side with a microphone in middle. This was the interview stage. It wasn’t really much of an interview. The host just got the challenger to start talking about himself and let him go. That could have been a problem, but, since the challenger was Butch Raphael of Pangaea Sandwich Shop, it was cool.
See Butch is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He has quit a history and I am gonna do a post all about him soon. But, first I want to tell you about tonight, cause this was something one dosn’t get the chance to do often.

So we arrive kinda of early with Wynn. Wynn, blends, bottles and markets his own wine and he was serving some last night. He was also a judge for the cook off. I am also gonna do a post all about Wynn, and not even mention Ty, very soon. So first things first, we check out the place, paying close attention to the double kitchen. I love a commercial kitchen, here it was two for one. Two huge stoves with burners, grills and griddles. And two ovens. And two double door coolers. Hell it was as if this double kitchen had two of everything! I really liked this place.

Before the interview they had starters, beer and wine. Wynn’s wine of course. Butch prepared the starters. I didn’t see the beer option. They were pouring Wynns Rose and his Spanish white, Vida Nuvea. The Rose is also Spanish, made from the tempranillo grape. Tempranillo is a fairly big red and I think big reds make good Rose. The white is fresh and kinda green with almost a bubble to it. It is effervescent if you will, and you should.

In the south we like bacon. Everywhere in the world, we like bacon. Anything wrapped in bacon and cooked is good. I like to wrap bacon in bacon and then cook that. Butch served candied bacon as a starter. It was like crack and 3 seconds after I ate one, I wanted another. I ate about twenty strips. They were half the size of a full piece of bacon and stiff with a sugar coating. I am not sure what else was used , but I hope Butch will tell us, I plan on turning the whole world on to this shit!

So first they did the interview part. Really, Butch talked about where he came from and how he became a chef. Like I said, really interesting stuff, I will go into detail in a day or two. Then it was back to the double kitchen for the cook off.

It was done a lot like the t.v. show. The secret ingredient’s was hanger steak. Each Chef had 30 minutes to prepare as many dishes as they could using hanger steak and a pile of other ingredients. So they went to work and folks were encouraged to ask question as they cooked. Folks did ask all kinds of questions, Butch answered most and the other chef did a few. That is until time got tight on time and they were trying to plate the food.

The judging was the same as Iron Chef. Points were given for taste, presentation and originality. I was down on the challengers (Chef Butch) end so I didn’t really get to see what the other chef prepared. Butch did a twisted/southern dish with chicken fried hanger steak that was served on top of BLUECHEESE GRITS and topped with garlic chips. Yea, the blue cheese grits were good. Stacey decided we are gonna perfect this dish and use it often. Between the candied bacon and the grits, Butch was going southern with a twist and I liked it. He also did a roulade. Cutting the steak thin and rolling it with oaxacan cheese. He started this in a skillet and finished it in the oven. That was served with a red wine and butter reduction. His third dish was blackened curry crusted hanger steak. Served on top of an arugula salad with a apple, onion and radish relish.

This was good stuff and, except for the blue-cheese grit dish, they were also beautiful to look at. It didn’t matter Butch lost. I demanded a recount and really raised hell about it until the folks running the show threatened to call the police and have me arrested.

But otherwise, it was cool to see them film this. The double kitchen scenes were the best. I ask one of the guys filming what they were gonna with all the footage and he said they would compile a montage of different shots and try and sell the idea as a show. They are doing another show in two weeks and I plan on being there.

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