There’s a chill in the air, and a light fog can be seen arising from the cold waters of the Hudson River. The mood has been set for a truly unconventional culinary throw down. The venue housing today’s topic of conversation is none other than Pier 92, found in Manhattan’s bustling West Side. The entire area is abuzz with excitement and anticipation and it’s not for naught. Tonight is the NYC Wine & Food Festival’s Rooftop Iron Chef Showdown: Battle Autumn Bounty! This is an entirely appropriate nomenclature for the aforementioned time, place, and event.
The busy chefs could be seen prepping their decadent fares and wares, all with the hopes of becoming this year’s Iron Chef Showdown victor. These gurus of grub have been asked to prepare a small-plate-style nosh of their finest Fall flavors, allowing for each of the parched patrons to sample their triumphant treats. Following these festivities, the finale of the event is actually judged by a team of six Iron Chefs, which includes the magnetic and irreplaceable Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, and the monumental Masaharu Morimoto. These titans of taste are made to judge each of the dishes, and have the pleasure of crowning the champ of this epic showdown, who can gloat about their title until next year’s event.
I am not one to miss out on trying new and interesting dishes, and this event is no exception. Fine foodie favorites such as Bessou, Perrine, La Cuchara, and Le Coq Rico are all out at this expo in full force. A few of the standout items include an apple crisp served with an ice cream made out of assorted veggies, a tiny bowl of savory ramen (Little Tong Noodle Shop) sporting precisely cooked noodles, and a surprisingly satisfying vegetable-centric plate offered up by Le Coq Rico (New York’s very own pricey poultry purveyor) which boasted roasted fennel and a creamy root puree. The finest of all items, however, would have to be the entry put forth by La Cuchara. Homage to Spain and its porky life force was realized in this expertly designed plate of leafy microgreens punctuated by an indescribably rich and fatty slice of Jamón Ibérico paired with a section of pear in order to incorporate a much needed acidic element. This was a true powerhouse of culinary art, to put it mildly.