Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ala Cuisine! My experience with IRON CHEF Waterloo

Jonathan Gushue, Executive Chef at Langdon Hall, recently nabbed a spot (#77) on the prestigious S. Pellegrino 100 Worlds Best Restaurant list. He put his kitchen skills to the test in an Iron Chef Competition that happened on October 20th, 9:30pm at Nick and Nat's Uptown 21.
He and challenger Nick (owner of the local restaurant) were presented with a mystery box (actually, a turkey roaster) with a secret ingredient. With only a few minutes to plan a menu with their respective assistants, the teams duked it out, preparing a 3-course meal in just an hour.
The teams were: Nick & Claire Matlock vs. Andrew Coppolino & Jonathan Gushue.
Andrew - the face of "Waterloo Region Eats,"& radio-show host
Claire (myself) - 16 year old aspiring "foodie" with an uncharacteristically teenage love for sustainable agriculture, organic food and cooking.
In the past, these Iron Chef battles have been a huge draw, producing great hilarity, entertainment, and very impressive creations, which are judged by a panel of celebrity guests. For foodies, it was a rare opportunity to peer into the kitchen and watch the experts at work. And for the winner, of course the reward was bragging rights!
So how did Iron Chef Waterloo play out this week? Well, battle-Emu (that's right!) sparked some creative dishes like emu-tartar over a creamy salad of its own soft-boiled eggs, emu loin with veggie sides and a white wine foam and possible most creative, an ice cream from scratch whipped together in the limited time allowance.
Judges would taste and critic every nibble and bite. Extra food was passed out to the crowd of spectators. Bribes from the chefs were not uncommon. Nick and I passed out a heaping bowl of the ice cream to the audience and Gushu and Andrew fed the crowd some pomme puree, which hinted delightfully to the amount of butter it contained.
After a one-hour battle of stressful, yet nevertheless fun and exciting cooking, plating and garnishing, the verdict was in. .....Drumroll..... the winners? Nick and Claire!!! By a mere two points, and most likely a cause of our supper creamy dessert. Our prize? (Besides the bragging rights,) we were awarded authentic Mennonite farming hats from the same area that supplied the secret ingredient.
Minus the prizes and cameras and music, if this was just a taste of what takes place in a professional kitchen every meal service.... I think I liked it a little too much.