Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolved: To Eat Like An Iron Chef

We had fun watching the "Iron Chef America" last night, which pitted "supers chefs" Bobby Flay and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford against Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batal . The mystery ingredient was vegetables from the White House garden. And there was a local hook, Comerford is a New Town resident -- so we claim her as our own.

So do those of Filipino heritage. This, from the ABS-CBN  news service:

Cristeta Comerford joined the White House kitchen as assistant chef during the Clinton administration.

 She was promoted as Executive Chef by former First Lady Laura Bush in 2005, and reappointed by Mrs. Obama in 2009 because of her dish's emphasis on healthy cuisine.

 Comerford earned her Bachelor of Science in Food Technology diploma from the University of the Philippines and has 26 years of culinary experience in kitchens from Washington D.C. to Chicago, and from Austria to France.

 She lives in Columbia, Maryland with husband John (also a chef) and 7-year-old daughter named Danielle, who has reportedly showed signs of following in her parents' footsteps. 

The Flay-Comerford team bested Lagasse and Batali. Again from ABS report:

The Lagasse and Batali dishes comprised of a scallop with radish and fennel salad; an oyster and salad trio featuring several White House greens; sweet potato and ricotta ravioli; a succulent lardo- wrapped quail and turkey wrapped rice and spinach duet; and dessert of sweet corn beignet with an orange liquor-spiked chicory coffee.

 Comerford and Flay countered with dishes featuring a fennel and apple salad with oyster; garden salad with lobster and crispy squid; a delightful broccoli clam chowder (that Mrs. Comerford said was Filipino-inspired); a 7-vegetable All-American barbecue dish that incorporated grilled pork, collard  greens tamale, cauliflower cheese, and pickled watermelon radish.

 For the coup de grĂ¢ce (deathblow), Comerford and Flay served up a meringue sweet potato tart.

 "I told her don't be afraid to use her Filipino background, which have a lot of flavors there," Flay said of Comerford.

 Following suit, Comerford tried to infuse ginger, lemongrass and other herbs to bring the best out of the vegetables, which she has often pointed out, is the building block of many traditional Filipino dishes. 

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