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Seattle Has TWO Iron Chef Competitors!

27-Apr-2005

From this morning’s Seattle Times Food Section:

Irons in the fire

Move over Morimoto! Man your pans, Mario! Seattle chefs are heading to New York to kick your Iron butts. Tamara Murphy (owner/chef at Brasa) and Tom Douglas (Tom Douglas Restaurants) are preparing to wage war. They’ll be in New York this week to tape "Iron Chef America." Those culinary competitions — Tamara vs. Mario, Tom vs. Morimoto — are scheduled to air in August.

"Iron Chef America," based on the Japanese cult classic, pits some of America’s favorite chefs against TV chef-celebs Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay and Cat Cora, the first female Iron Chef. Opponents face off in the "Kitchen Stadium" at the Food Network studios, and are given one hour to create a five-course tasting menu for a panel of judges. Scores are given for taste, presentation and originality, and each of the dishes must include a "secret ingredient" announced at the start of the hour.

Murphy and Douglas each will bring two chefs along as an on-air support team. Mary Lokar and Jake Crenshaw will back up Murphy. Eric Tanaka and Mark Fuller will work with Douglas.

The teams have taken to their Seattle kitchens for practice sessions. "We’ve been watching ‘Iron Chef’ as much as we can," says Murphy. As for preparation, "They pretty much give you the outline — a list of what the potential ingredients might be. You’re allowed to bring some plating stuff that’s crucial to your presentation, but basically, they want you to walk into the stadium with your knives" and get cooking.

While there is a certain amount of taping before the battle begins, Murphy explains, "once the buzzer goes off, they seldom stop taping — unless someone gets hurt. It’s a true, intense hour."

The thought of competing on "Iron Chef" — which draws millions of viewers — is certainly daunting. "Of course I’m looking forward to it," says Douglas. "When they call you for ‘Iron Chef,’ you really can’t say no."

"TV is very powerful these days," adds Murphy. "It’s all about the TV Food Network. I go to the Seattle Art Institute and talk to the kids (about being a chef), and they all want to be Emeril."

Emeril, says Douglas, is actually a shy guy. "When I first met him, he couldn’t talk in front of a crowd. Off the air, he still seems very shy to me, but he’s learned to move beyond that in a public setting. Personally, I like my privacy, but when I’m doing my job — publicity is part of that job."

And while Murphy insists that TV stardom is certainly not what being a chef is all about, "Now it’s come my way, and I’m going to go for it."

Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or tase@seattletimes.com

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