I have been wanting to go to the Iron Chef dinner ever since it started in Sydney. But because of the cost of the event, I was never able to get any friends wanting to go with me. Luckily this year the price has dropped, and thanks to our friend, we got us a great discount price and managed to assemble a big group of people to go.
Braving the freezing cold wind and rain, we arrive at the Hilton a huge flock of people all waiting to see the Iron Chefs. Come 6pm, we're ushered into the foyer outside the ballroom where we are served drinks and canapes.
Bubblies with Scallop sushi Tuna sushi and beef with chilli fried onions The most gorgeous fried oyster and more beef with chilli fried onions! Meatballs!
If the food was anything as good as the canapes, we're going to be in for a great night!
All of a sudden you can hear the faint drumming of Taiko drums in the background. The drumming gets louder and louder when the doors to the ballroom are thrown open. I was standing outside the doors when I squealed "OMGGGGGGGGGG!! ITS THE IRON CHEF PHOTOS!!!"
Man.... I was acting like such a schoolgirl! Clapping and squealing when I saw the same photos that used to appear in Kitchen Stadium. I was squealing even louder when I realised that there was a showbag on every chair (Yes I know, I'm such a dork!)
Once seated, every table around us had their cameras out and flashes were going off like a disco party. It seems like we're not the only ones who want to capture every moment of this night!
The moment finally arrives when the Iron Chef theme music starts playing. I was so excited I screamed out "OMG!!! ITS THE IRON CHEF MUSIC!!!!". Luckily no one but my table heard. (That's what I'm telling myself).
Chef Sakai, with his pear
The minute Sakai steps out everyone went crazy with their cameras. The excitement only intensified when Chen came out as well.
Chef Chen with his cleaver
I can't remember a single thing the host said after this as all I heard was the clicking of 400 cameras around me. I just know we're in for a great night!
Bang a Gong, we are on!
Menu for the night Sakai in the kitchen talking about his dish Chef Sakai's Chilled seafood on cauliflower mousse with mango dressing
paired with 2009 Mt Difficulty Estate Pinot Gris
I personally hate cauliflower unless its deep fried or drenched in cheese. It took the skills of Chef Sakai to turn a horrible vegetable into something smooth and decadent! Seriously, I described cauliflower as decadent!!
As the first course came out, we hear some commotion at the other end of the room. Chen was out taking photos with people. We leave the food at the table and dashed over with our cameras to get photos.
When finally get back to our table to tuck into our first course when the hosts came out with Sakai looking for comments and judgement from the audience. I would've put my hand up, but I hadn't even had a chance to touch the dish yet! I wish I had just taken a quick bite, cos the winner gets a set of professional chef knifes from Chef's Armoury!
After they had picked the winner, they looked for volunteers to go into the kitchen for a challenge. I practically fell off my seat waving my arms around to get picked. I remember my heart was in my throat thudding when Sakai walked RIGHT UP TO ME and looked me in the eyes.......then he picked a girl from the table behind me! DOH!!!!!!
Chen walking right past our table when looking for volunteers!
The contestants were asked to plate up Chef Okazaki trio of Tuna dish. The fastest and best presentation wins. The winner also got another set of chef knifes! As the next course starts coming out, the camera in the Kitchen shows Tomo, Chen and Sakai eating the leftovers the contestants had plated up!
Sakai shows the audience how tasty the dish is:
L-R: Tuna tartare with spicy miso in wanton cup Tuna rice paper roll Tuna tataki, asparagus and lemongrass tomato salsa
paired with Knappstein 'Three' - Gewurstraminer - Reisling - Pinot Gris
My favourite would have to be the miso tuna on the left. The texture was incredibly melt in your mouth creamy. Even more so than what tuna usually is.
Chef Okazaki greets the guests
By the 2nd course, I was also onto my 7th glass of wine. Yes, 7th! My friend was driving, which meant I get to have all her paired wine, plus the few glasses of bubblies I had earlier on. This also meant I was getting very "happy" and suddenly decided I needed to buy an Iron Chef apron. Rewind an hour earlier, I was saying $30 for an apron is a bit much! But after 7 glasses, I suddenly found it great value! hehe I was almost "happy" enough to pay $120 for 2 autographed cookbooks that was entirely in Japanese. ALMOST. I was probably 3 glasses away from being that "happy" ;)
Eventually the cameras cut back to the Kitchen where Chen and Sakai are enjoying a game of golf with their putt putt mat where it took Chen multiple attempts before sinking the ball. Sakai on the other hand, managed multiple hole in ones!!
This is when the hosts decided to get a few volunteers up on stage to compete in a game of putt putt. This time, I must've looked like I was about to explode with excitement when I was waving my arms in the air and actually got picked!
Chef Chen setting up the mat
It was at this stage that a disgruntled man in the audience stands up and starts ranting and raving about how he's paid $385 for this meal and all he's getting is a comedy act. The few of us who got picked on stage actually went "Is he for real?!". He must've had a few too many drinks as he had to be calmed by the staff. Luckily the hosts and Chen were gracious and continued on the with the show.
Showing us how its done
The challenge was to beat Chen in a game of putting and the person with the least number of Putts wins the challenge. I've never played a proper game of golf in my life, the most I've done is putt putt golf. Luckily for me, I'm reknown to play EXTRA well in a game of pool after I've had a few drinks. (Seriously, I actually win a lot more games when I play that way!).
I'm 1st up!
I hit the ball and its going straight for the hole but I think I hit a bit hard and it might overshoot. Chen jumps in, grabs the ball and dunks it straight into the hole! *LoL*.
The next lady up hits the ball completely off the mat, but Chen came to her rescue as well. The 3rd contestant looked close to sinking the ball, but didn't seem to hit hard enough. It did go in in the end when Chen nudged it into the hole! *LoL* But because I only had 1 hit, I was considered the winner! Woohoo!!! (I wasn't going to argue!)
Hostess announced that I win a prize from Japan airlines.....but they're not plane tickets. I think I said "DAMN!" pretty loud, but hopefully not loud enough to be heard on the mic?! I'm then told that I won an "Aeroclock", which resulted me in going "WHATS THAT?!" (oops, a few too many drinks for me!). The hostess didn't know either, but said I would find out when I get it! haha
Chef Haru does a demonstration on stage on how he created his masterpiece. "Spatchcock en croûte de sel a la Haru". Its basically a spatchcock encased in a salt and thyme dough in the shape of a bird. It certainly looked very impressive, but our whole table was a bit disappointed that they remove the outer crust before serving it to us. We all wanted photos of it! Even if it meant having to battle the bones! (It'll also mean we get a whole spatchcock to ourselves, but that's just being greedy! hehe)
Spatchcock en croûte de sel a la Haru
paired with 2008 Stonier Estate Chardonnay
The spatchcock was incredibly moist and flavoursome (It was dripping juice when he removed the crust). It reminded me of the chinese salt baked chicken, but with a much more delicate taste. The mash was divine, but we couldn't reall work out what the black stuff was around it. If you take a big chunk, it had the earthy taste of truffles. But it couldn't be real truffles as the flavour was so delicate, rather than the rich earthy taste you would expect. We decided to treat it like truffle anyway and cleaned up the whole plate.
Next course up was the high anticipated Lobster in Szechuan sauce created by Chen. Unlike the other dishes we've had so far, where there is a brigade of chefs and sous chefs cooking and assembling the dish. Chen decided to cook every single serve of this dish for the 400 odd guests! It was great fun watching him on screen tossing a huge wokful of lobster balls. He even did a demo on stage!
Chen in action Getting excited! Sakai and Haru helping with the final plating
Iron Chef Chen's Lobster with chilli sauce Szechuan stylepaired with 2006 Argyle 'Reserve' Pinot Noir
The lobster balls are served with a steamed mantou, that is used to mop up every last drop of that gorgeous sauce. At first I was disappointed that its lobster balls and not big chunks of lobster meat, but how wrong was I? Cutting into the ball reveals great big chunks of lobster. None of that horrible over processed rubbery flour fishball like things for Chen. This dish was magnificent! My friends were quite distressed at one point though....they ran out of bread to mop up the sauce! Its ok, we'll do it the lady like way......scrape the plate with the knife, lick the blade, try not to cut your tongue :D
Braised Wagyu veal cheek ono green pea and wasabi mash with cabernet juspaired with 2008 Petaluma 'The Hundred Line' Cabernet Sauvignon
The last main of the night was the slow braised wagyu veal cheeks. The meat was so incredibly tender, that I didn't need my knife to cut the meat up. Actually, I was having problems holding cutlery at this point. (I think I was up to the 12th glass of wine. *hic*) The pea mash is made entirely from fresh peas, giving it that lovely vibrant and green colour. The mash itself was also very creamy, but I couldn't taste any of the wasabi in it. The dish also needed a bit more seasoning as people on our table started adding salt and pepper to it.
After we finished the veal, Chen shows up and starts walking through the Audience taking photos with everyone. I managed to get his photo and my apron signed! (Now I have a $30 apron I can never use! hehe) We also met his son!
My signed apron Smoked Chocolate and 'DELAMAIN X.O.FALE&DRY 25YO' mousse with agar-agar of milk, chocolate anglaise saucepaired with 2004 Knappstein Vintage Fortified Shiraz
The last course of the night was a smoked chocolate dessert. The plating was gorgeous, with a lovely agar agar disc, topped with a dome of smoked chocolate mousse and a smokey tuile on the top. Whilst the dish sounded fantastic on the menu, I really didn't enjoy this dish too much. The smokiness of the dish kept screaming bacon to me. Sweet bacon! The tuile on top had an uncanny resemblance to the lovely golden crunchy bits of cheese you find on the edge of a cheese and bacon roll.....except this was sweet.
The evening comes to an end, and all the Chefs come out on stage to the sounds of thunderous applause. Chef Chen introduced us to his Son and then basically invited everyone to his restaurant in Tokyo. I'm taking it as a personal invite Chef Chen!!
At the end of the night, Chen and Sakai posed for photos with all their adoring fans. We were close to the door and managed to dash over to the quickly growing line to get our photos taken with the stars of the night! That's it, I'm not washing my hands again, ever! I'll even let people sniff the hands that touched Chen and Sakai for $5 a sniff! ;)
After getting our photos take, we went to the cloakroom where I thought I could pick up my prize, only to line up right behind Maeve O'Meara! She is such a sweetie and actually remembered my name! *blush* Of course I acted like the squealing fangirl and just had to get a photo with her:
I can't even remember what we were chatting about, but I'm pretty sure I completely embarrassed myself infront of her! My friends also pointed out at one stage that I had to go to the other side of the room to pick up my prize. I quickly dash off to grab my aeroclock and came back to join my friends in the queue and even showed Maeve what the "aeroclock" was.
What I didn't know was that there was more to the prize! I only realised when I read Not Quite Nigella's
post that the golf winner actually won vouchers to Rise as well! I vaguely remembered I had some form of paper with the aeroclock that I had shoved into my bag. It was only when I came home to dig through my bag that I realised that I did indeed win the voucher! haha Thanks Lorraine!
All in all, I had an absolute fantastic night! Hopefully they'll be back again next year and we'll score great tickets again!