Last night on “Iron Chef,” Chicago chef David Schneider, owner of Taxim Restaurant in Chicago, took on fellow Greek and renowned chef Cat Cora in a Battle Leg of Lamb. Among the judges was Greek-American Michael Psilakis, one of the premier chefs in modern Greek cuisine.
Each chef prepared a five-course meal using lamb.
Schneider followed a more traditional approach, though adding several refreshing surprises. The dishes reminded you of home, but with a touch of New World influence. Cora’s menu infused more global and Asian influences, per her popular “Hellasian” (Hellenic-Asian) style of cuisine. Her dishes showcased her creative side, and how Greek cuisine can be successfully fused with that of other countries. Each created dishes that took the the viewer on a virtual multi-sensory taxidi of Greek cuisine.
Schneider’s first course was a Lamb Mezze Spread, which included an eggplant spread with kebab on top, a minced lamb shell stuffed with shrimp on top of house-made yogurt, plus a dolma of ground lamb wrapped in swiss chard over a walnut skordalia, which Psilakis called “impressive,” and “the perfect opening.” The second course was a Minced Lamb and Phyllo Pie. Grilled Lamb and Cherry Skewer was the third course. Next was Lamb and Spinach Roulade, which Psilakis declared “awesome,” and “represented lamb in such a great way.” The Chicago chef finished with a Lamb Osso Buco, which one judge called “perfect.” Psilakis noted that Schneider “captured lamb in a bowl” and it “represents lamb in such a good way.”
Cora served Lamb Tartar as the first course, and a Lamb Duo as the second. “This rocks!” Psilakis said of her third course, the very imaginative Spicy Mergues Udon, in which she made the lamb into sausage and finished it with udon noodles. Her fourth course was a Lamb Tagine, of which Psilakis stated was “hard not to find beauty in this dish, from the flavors to the presentation.” Finally, she served a Spiced Lamb Roulade with pomegranate syrup and loukoumades, which Psilakis called his “favorite.”
Ultimately Cora won the competition 55-46. The chefs were critiqued on taste, plating and originality.