Knives are out

Iron Chef en­ters cook­ing show wars

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

‘IHAVE never been un­der so much pres­sure in my life,’’ says sweaty chef Dan Hong as he wipes a stain­less steel bench ready to dis­play the four dishes he’s pre­pared in the past 60 min­utes.

Not that he is un­ac­cus­tomed to hard work. The 25-year-old dishes up hun­dreds of din­ners ev­ery week at his Syd­ney res­tau­rant, Lo­tus, but it is not ev­ery day that he has no idea what the main in­gre­di­ent is be­fore­hand, has never set foot in the kitchen be­fore, is fac­ing an op­po­nent with twice as much ex­pe­ri­ence and then has his dishes judged by crit­ics— all un­der the glare of tele­vi­sion stu­dio lights and half a dozen cam­eras. Wel­come to Iron Chef Aus

tralia, the lo­cal take on the hit Ja­panese cook­ing pro­gram — re­peats of which still air across the globe, de­spite the se­ries end­ing in its coun­try of ori­gin more than 10 years ago.

‘‘ We walked through the kitchen for about half an hour be­fore­hand,’’ says Hong as he high-fives his two sous chefs af­ter they com­plete their chal- lenge with sec­onds to spare. Hosted by Grant Denyer, with run­ning com­men­tary by food writer Richard Cor­nish, the nine-part se­ries was filmed in a vast Mel­bourne stu­dio.

Hong went knife to knife against Guil­laume Brahimi — one of the world-class chefs who, along with other ‘‘ Iron Chefs’’ Neil Perry and Guy Grossi, star in the show. Other young guns to take up the mys­tery in­gre­di­ent chal­lenge un­veiled by ‘‘ The Chair­man’’ (US ac­tor and Iron Chef Amer

ica host Mark Da­cas­cos) in­clude Sacha Meier, Herb Faust, Matt Stone, Judyta Slup­nicki and for­mer

MasterChef con­tes­tants and now cou­ple Chris Bade­noch and Ju­lia Jenk­ins.

The Iron Chef and chal­lenger’s com­pleted dishes are then pre­sented to food crit­ics Leo Schofield, Larissa Dubecki and Daily Tele­graph res­tau­rant re­viewer Simon Thom­sen.

‘‘ At Iron Chef they are at the top of their tree and we are served su­perb food night af­ter night,’’ Thom­sen says dur­ing an on-set break.

‘‘ Then we’ve chal­lengers who have amaz­ing imag­i­na­tion and are pro­duc­ing food that sur­prises and de­lights and does some ex­tra­or­di­nary stuff.

‘‘ They are just push­ing them­selves higher and higher and higher. But the dan­ger is there that you are go­ing to land on your a---and you are not go­ing to be able to get up.’’

Thom­sen says the time limit sets the ul­ti­mate dead­line.

‘‘ You can’t send a waiter out to say, ‘ Sorry sir, your dish will be an­other 20 min­utes’. You have to have four dishes ready at the end of 60 min­utes or it’s all over.

‘‘ Those guys were go­ing ham­mer and tongs.’’

Iron Chef is the first in a flurry of new projects for MasterChef’s Bade­noch, 42. His eatery, Josie Bones, opens in Mel­bourne at the end of this month and he also has a cook­book, The En­tire

Beast, com­ing out. ‘‘ Peo­ple think I went quiet af­ter Ma

sterChef but that wasn’t the case at all,’’ he says.

‘‘ I (just) wasn’t putting my head on ev­ery ad of­fer I got.’’

Bade­noch and Jenk­ins made head­lines when they be­gan dat­ing shortly af­ter the first se­ries of MasterChef.

Bade­noch found him­self in hot wa­ter when ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in a love triangle.

Bade­noch and Jenk­ins are now busi­ness, as well as ro­man­tic, part­ners. Josie Bones will be a beer bar with match­ing food.

‘‘ All the doubters have been proven wrong,’’ Bade­noch says. ‘‘ We’re do­ing the res­tau­rant to­gether and it will be a com­bi­na­tion of our ideas.’’ Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by

Colin Vick­ery Iron Chef, Chan­nel 7, Tues­day, 7.30pm.

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