So by now I am sure I am the last person on the planet to chime in on Sameh’s performance the Sunday before last on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. He did a great job, but like in the NBA playoffs, the calls always go the superstars' way. You really have to wrest a challenge away from an Iron Chef to win on ICA as a visitor. Slashfood had this hysterical piece, and while I always lament Steingarten’s absence from the show, the biggest head scratcher was who the heck are Mike LaDuke and Kim Haasarud???? What a pair of duds. LaDuke clearly gets to sit on the dais because he is Red Lobster's CEC, and Red Lobby is a sponsor of the show. Haasrud is a mixologist who I never heard of boring.
Anyway, with almost eight species of mackerel used (that I could count at least) and some really creative work, I adored this episode and thought Sameh nailed it. And while many locals thought he got jobbed on the "originality" category, you can chalk that up to home-court advantage for the Iron Chef and the killer bagel and chowder course he made. Morimoto is a massive talent, and I thought Sameh also got a gift from the judges re: plating points. He was one point shy of Morimoto's mark, a little generous for my money, especially given the Iron Chef's sushi in bamboo leaf, mackerel salad, and the bagel course. Those three were stunningly presented and creative.
Sameh’s trio of mackerel was impressive, the whole fish was a nice touch, but nothing else blew me away from a creativity or originality standpoint. I didn’t like the look of the spanikopita dish he did, and don’t trust Kim Haasarud or Chef LaDuke on that one either. But Daniella said it was tasty..her I trust. The two chefs tied in the taste category which sadly we have no way to judge that from our couches.
In other news, here are some updates on topics we frequently opine about on this blog
elBulli is closing. Just for two years though (2012 and 2013), and it will be open next year. This is no shocker. Adria is really quirky and taking a break is good for the creative mind. Still the best meal in a restaurant kitchen I ever ate was him spoon feeding me 15 courses one day, and then getting to eat that night in the restaurant as the sun set in Roses. Baby rabbit escabeche. Best thing I ever put in my mouth.
Chris Bianco, my good friend and soon to be co-star on Bizarre Foods of Arizona coming your way in April/May, is also taking a leave but the pizzeria is still open.