You are “The Next Iron Chef.” Three Brooklynites hope to hear those sweet words on the new season of the Food Network’s popular competition show, which premieres on October 4 at9 p.m.
“Any chef would want to be ‘The Next Iron Chef.’ It’s one of those big-time honors,” said Brad Farmerie, who lives in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. Farmerie is the executive chef of PUBLIC and The Monday Room (210 Elizabeth Street, 212-343-7011, www.public-nyc.com) and Double Crown (316 Bowery, 212-254-0350, www.doublecrown-nyc.com).
The winner of the reality show will join the “Iron Chef America” line-up alongside culinary superstars Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto.
Farmerie is competing for the “Iron Chef” title against a group of award-winning chefs, including Park Slope resident Amanda Freitag (executive chef of The Harrison, 355 Greenwich Street, 212-274-9310, www.theharrison.com) and Williamsburg resident Seamus Mullen (executive chef and partner of Boqueria Flatiron, 53 West 19th Street, 212-255-4160, and Boqueria Soho, 171 Spring Street, 212-343-4255, www.boquerianyc.com).
“It was very competitive in the sense that we were all there ultimately to win,” Mullen said. “For the most part, I felt like there was a lot of mutual respect and there was not very much if any shady stuff going around.”
Freitag had an edge going into “The Next Iron Chef.” She’s already been a judge on the Food Network’s “Chopped” and nearly surpassed Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a king crab battle in Kitchen Stadium.
“It gave me a slight advantage,” Freitag said before adding, “We all went in very confident like warriors but we all knew in the back of our minds that nobody has ever done this before.”
Food Network producers wasted no time in shaking things up. In the first episode, the chefs are asked to create a dish using one of several odd ingredients, including grasshoppers and unlaid eggs.
“If you’re giving us all a piece of chicken, that’s boring,” Freitag acknowledged.
The drama began early for Mullen when a challenger switched his ingredient and stuck him with stinky tofu.
“Both of us cook Spanish food. He threw me under the bus,” Mullen said. However, it is a competition and, “If I had been in his position, I probably would have done the same thing.”
“It’s an amazing road that we all went down and I think there are going to be a lot of twists and turns,” Farmerie said.
Not only are these three chefs incredibly talented, they’re humble and eager to share their culinary knowledge with unskilled cooks. In fact, they welcomed this newspaper’s “Kitchen Klutz” columnist to their restaurants for one-on-one cooking lessons. (Read all about the fun, informative and sometimes wacky teaching sessions in a special multi-part “The Iron Klutz” series starting next week in this paper’s “24/Seven” section.)
Here’s a tip from the chefs — when at home, keep it simple. Although their restaurants’ menus feature sophisticated ingredients, the chefs often create easy dishes for themselves.
“Nine times out of 10, when I cook at home there’s usually not a protein involved,” Freitag said. “Either it’s this humongous salad with cheese and nuts or a big bowl of pasta with butter, cheese and pepper.”
Although all three chefs work in Manhattan, they’ve decided to call Brooklyn home. Why, you ask? Well, because it’s so much cooler — and there’s great food at every turn.
Mullen is a big fan of the Red Hook ballfield vendors. “It’s my favorite place to eat in New York City,” he said.
Farmerie loves the Australian meat pies at Down Under Bakery (DUB) Pies on Columbia Street and plans to use veggies from the Red Hook CSA in his restaurants’ menus. “They’re probably the best eggplants I ever tasted,” he said.
For Freitag, who opened Sette on Seventh Avenue, it’s all about pasta from Al Di La Trattoria in Park Slope. “The fact that I can walk one block and have dinner at Al Di La will probably keep me in that neighborhood forever,” she said.
“There’s more and more amazing restaurants in Brooklyn,” Freitag said. “People want to be able to stay in their neighborhood, they don’t want to come to Manhattan every time they want to have a decent meal.”
“Brooklyn is a great place to live,” Farmerie added. “I’ve got a son who is 16 months old who gets to run around and play over here. It’s a lifestyle. I wouldn’t trade it.”