July 21, 2011

Chef showdown at NMAI

Iron Chef-Style Showdown Sunday at the American Indian MuseumThis Sunday, July 24, two chefs will enter the American Indian Museum’s outdoor amphitheatre, but only one will leave victorious. They won’t be squaring off in hand-to-hand combat, but knives will be drawn as they compete in an Iron Chef-style showdown from 2-5 p.m. as part of the museum’s 2011 Living Earth Festival. As for the competitors. . .

Smithsonian’s own Chef Richard Hetzler, the executive chef for the museum’s Mitsitam Café, does battle on his home turf once again. He stands undefeated at 1-0, after carving out a victory at last year’s event over L’Academie de Cuisine instructor Brian Patterson. The good-natured Hetzler likes to push the envelope, and is “not afraid to take risks and do some fun stuff with molecular gastronomy.” Whether that will be possible in the heat of the amphitheater kitchen remains to be seen.

His opponent, Chef Don McClellan (Cherokee), who will be competing for the first time, hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and what he lacks in battle experience, he makes up for in confidence. “I believe that I will win, yes,” he states. The executive chef at Atria Vista del Rio, McClellan prefers to keep his preparations simple and flavorful, and his southwestern style should mesh well with the battle’s not-so-secret ingredients.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians in A Taste of Louisiana and Aboriginal Cooking with the Wolfman.

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