Sunday, January 6, 2013

Utah Chef Viet Pham Beats Bobby Flay in "Iron Chef"

Viet Pham celebrates his "Iron Chef" victory at Naked Fish Bistro.
Beef fat ice cream ... who knew?

Chef Viet Pham was having a great time chatting and joking with over 100 friends, family, and foodies  at his "Iron Chef"-watching party at the Naked Fish Bistro in Salt Lake City.

The cheers were nearly deafening when Pham was declared the winner in the cook-off against Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
(Here's an update on Viet Pham's upcoming June 2013 gig, The Next Food Network Star). 

Valerie Phillips and Viet Pham at  "Iron Chef" party.
Using ground meat as the secret ingredient, Pham and sous chef Bowman Brown came up with some creative dishes such as soft-scrambled egg with sausage, served inside an egg shell; lamb sausage, beef borscht, halibut soaked in hamburger-infused whey,  and beef fat ice cream with cherries.
OK, I'll admit, with all the excitement in the crowd, I couldn't hear the program that to get the exacting details on all the dishes. Adding to the melee were several young kids who spent the whole time screaming at the top of their lungs while chasing each other around the room, and stabbing each other with chop sticks. Their parents were apparently too engrossed in watching the show to try to control them.
Simon Majumdar praised Pham's creations for "depth of flavor," although he criticized the chewy beef in one of the dish.  Flay fell behind early, since his first dish was deemed too salty.
The total score was Viet Pham, 80 versus Bobby Flay, 73.
"Our strategy was not to deviate from who we are as chefs," Viet said.
The camera showed his parents in the Kitchen Stadium audience. In an earlier interview, Viet told me he used to watch the original Japanese "Iron Chef" with his parents when he was a kid, so it was especially cool to have his mom and dad there to share his big moment.

Before the episode aired, I joked with Viet about divulging the winner ahead of time. "I've always said that it's not necessarily whether you win or not, but the people you meet along the way," he said cryptically.

The party included a number of prominent chefs who were there to cheer on one of their own. One guest commented, "If a bomb was dropped here tonight, there wouldn't be any chefs left in Salt Lake City!"

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