HAI! Heh heh I couldn’t help myself! The Japanese cooking show Iron Chef is legendary. On each episode a challenger is pitted against one of the Iron Chefs (Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian) from Chairman Kaga’s Gourmet Academy and they have one hour to cook and improvise a multi-course meal around a theme ingredient. For me the highlight of the series is the incredibly over the top super cheesey dubbing and the intro where Chairman Kaga bites into a capsicum and chomps away merrily..
The lights dim in the Hilton Sydney Grand Ballroom and the sounds of the Iron Chef (and also Backdraft) theme song begins..
Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai and Iron Chef Chinese Kenichi Chen make their way onstage, standing in spotlights and holding a pear and cleaver respectively. The cheers and squeals in the room was deafening and so the night begins- Allez cuisine!
Menu amidst a large array of shiny cutlery. At $385 a pop the ticket price for this event would have been waaay outta my price range but luckily I was invited as a guest of Hilton Sydney (Thanks Gail!)
I was able to sneak backstage and into the kitchen in between courses and stare at amazement at the incredible teamwork and efficiency as the chefs plated up
Me and Iron Chef Sakai! Their costumes are so very shiny and apparently has only been worn for the 5th time since the show ended!
Iron Chef Sakai: Chilled seafood on cauliflower mousse with mango dressing. The smoothest cauliflower mousse evahhh topped with sweet Crystal Bay prawns, a cube of salmon, thin slices of abalone and nubbins of crunchy vegetables hide under the layer of mango sauce.
Rise Chef Okazaki and me (Hi Hideki!)
Chef Okazaki: Tuna tataki, asparagus and lemongrass tomato salsa, tuna rice paper roll, tuna tartare with spicy miso in wanton cup. Tasting plates make me happy- I love the feast for the eyes of well presented morsels of food and the slight pause for debate as I figure out what to eat first. The wonton cup wins and is devoured with a loud crunch, the thin crispy pastry a perfect vehicle for holding the cubes of slightly spicy uber fresh tuna.
Waiters zoom around super fast managing to not collide into anyone
Plate presentation photos
Writings on da wall
Chef Haru demonstrates how he makes his signature spatchcock dish, covering the spatchcock in a salt and herb crust
40mins later is a beyootiful golden bird
The salt crust is removed and the juicy spatchcock remains.
Chef Haru: Spatchcock en croute de sal a la Haru. Lol hello rosemary tree! Crazy garnish aside the dish was perfect. Spatchcock so juicy and tender and surprisingly not super salty atop a bed of smooth buttery mash.
Between courses there are games and lucky seat prizes but I’m uh much more interested in the kitchen.. Iron Chef Kenichi is engulfed in a plume of steam as he cooks the lobster for the entire room of hungry diners. The camera crew are melting as they zoom their cameras to catch every moment of the creation of the lobster masterpiece which is streamed live into the ballroom.
Platters awaiting the lobster
Iron Chef Chen: Lobster with chili sauce Szechwan style. The lobster balls are perfect and swimming in a spicy sweet chilli sauce. Soft mantou buns are served on the side and it pained me to use a knife and fork to eat it cos mantou is meant to be eaten with your hands! Ripped into pieces and dunked into the heavenly sauce!
Me and Iron Chef Kenichi
Chef Gary: Braised Wagyu Veal Cheek on green pea and wassabi mash with cabernet jus. Fall apart tender just doesn’t even begin to describe the softness of the veal! Had the plate been placed down hard on the table I reckon the whole thing would’ve collapsed into a quivering pile of juicy tender shreds of meat. I think my eyes rolled back into my head at the incredible flavour. Seriously. It was awesome. The mash didn’t have much of a wasabi burning taste which was good for me as I can’t deal with spicy pain.
Quick snap with Simon Thomsen as he and Joanna Savill were taking a break backstage from MC’ing duties
Row of desserts waiting for the finishing touches
Chef Saeko: Smoked chocolate and “Delamain X.O. Fale & Dry 25 year old” mousse, with agar agar of milk, chocolate anglaise sauce. I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan of this dessert. At first I enjoyed the smokey taste in the chocolate but after a while I started to crave something salty. Like bacon. And then the chocolate became a bit too cloying for my liking which was sad. The wafer was a tad bitter but was perfect when eaten with the disc of white chocolate.
The night is coming to a close but not before Iron Chef Sakai has a go on the Taiko drums
Chefs on stage for a final bow. The crowd roars and then chases after them as they pose for photographs outside. It’s been 11 years since the end of Iron Chef and still the people want more!
Chocolatesuze dined as a guest of Hilton Sydney