“The Next Iron Chef” is … Jose Garces! On Nov. 22, Garces, a 1996 graduate of Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts, beat out Jehangir Mehta in a head-to-head battle to take home the world’s most coveted culinary title.
Garces was selected as the Sixth Iron Chef by existing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon, along with series judges Donatella Arpaia (acclaimed restaurateur, food expert and owner of Anthos, Mia Dona and Kefi), Jeffrey Steingarten (food critic, Vogue magazine) and Anya Fernald (sustainable food consultant), who served as judges throughout “The Next Iron Chef.” As executive chef and owner of Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa and Village Whiskey in Philadelphia and executive chef at Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago, Garces has spent years perfecting different cuisines in top-rated restaurants and is now well known for his signature Latin cooking style. Since 2005, the Chicago native has opened six restaurants, authored Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, 2008) and won the 2009 ”Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” award from the James Beard Foundation.
Studying culinary arts at Kendall College was excellent training for a young chef, says Garces. “Lots of discipline, which is kind of the opposite of family cooking. ‘A pinch of this, a touch of that’ becomes exact measurements that you’d better follow if you want to get it right!”
A class assignment became Garces’ inspiration for Amada. “Our final project was to create a business plan for a restaurant we would one day like to open, and mine was a modern Spanish tapas bar, which is exactly what I set out to create, years later, in Philadelphia,” he says. “I called it Amada, after my grandmother who taught me to cook all those years ago, and opened it in October of 2005. It is a dream come true: full of energy and life–and some really good food–and I’m thankful for the encouragement and vision of my professors and advisers at Kendall.”
Tune in to “Iron Chef America” on Food Network on Sunday, January 17, 2010, at 8 p.m. CT as Garces represents the Chairman in Kitchen Stadium for his first battle as an Iron Chef. For more information, behind-the-scenes videos and photos, visit: www.foodnetwork.com/nextironchef.