How to become your own Iron Chef of America at home

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
– Voltaire

I’ve been watching a lot of Iron Chef America on TV lately. For me it must be one of the best cooking shows on the Food Network if not on TV generally.

So from all this watching of the great Iron Chefs showcase their mad skills I’ve become a bit of a foodie. Now as much as I wish that Iron Chef America would host Battle Vegan, I still enjoy learning all the great tips and tricks that Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces, Michael Symon and Marc Forgione share with us weekly.

And this got me to thinking about how you can become the next Iron Chef America even if its only in your own kitchen. I wanted to share some tips that I think will make you dazzle and shine in the kitchen no matter what your previous level of cooking experience is or even whether you’ve graduated cum laude from Le Cordon Bleu.

I do most of the cooking at home because I enjoy it, and also quite frankly because I’m better at it than my wife. She’ll agree 😉 And even though in my dreams I might think I could show Bobby Flay a thing or two, the reality is he’d likely flay my cooking skills open like the house of cards they are.

Nevertheless I think we can all learn to become the Iron Chef of America at home. Here’s how.

1. A great chef never blames her tools

Okay, so what does that mean? Does it mean that you can use that rusty old saw in woodshed to cut your tofu and onions? No way Jose. The first step in becoming a great chef is to have great tools to work with. This starts with the knife. You need a good knife in order to allow everything else to fall in place. The Wusthof Classic 8 inch chef’s knife is a great place to start.

Now it’s not just a great knife that you need, you’ll also eventually need to look at blenders, food processors and food mixers if you want to really branch out into the many skills that the Iron Chefs America have mastered. But a good knife is a great and classic start to slicing and dicing your way to kitchen magic and magnificence.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment

If there is one thing or one technique that I have really seen as the common technique amongst the Iron Chefs it is their willingness to experiment. It continues to awe inspire me what ingredients and flavor pairings these great chefs will come up with.

They aren’t afraid to experiment and you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment either. Now if you are an apprentice chef then you would be wise to master the basics and this brings us to our next point. But before we get there, always be wiling to try new ingredients, new techniques and new flavor matches in your cooking journey.

3. Build a solid foundation

A solid foundation is important in cooking and baking. In fact a firm foundation is really I believe the most crucial aspect of developing excellence in any skill that you are trying to learn, be that gastronomy or astronomy.

If you’ve ever watched a show of the Iron Chef America then you know what I’m talking about. All the chefs bar none, and this includes the challengers have mastered the basics. Well, what are the basics. They are the everyday aspects of cooking, like how to cook pasta al dente. How to pan fry, braise, grill, boil, poach etc. It is also about understanding the basics of seasoning.

A great place to start to build a solid foundation is Top Chef Online Culinary School which only costs around $100 and gives you a full and broad base from which to springboard your love and talent for cooking.

4. Have fun with food

This is perhaps an obvious one, but all the chefs on Iron Chef America show a love and fun with the food they are preparing and serving. In fact I have yet to see an Iron Chef America episode that is filled with angry and upset chefs. They all seem to revel in the food, the techniques and the fun of basically playing with food.

Food shouldn’t be serious. It is a labor of love and of giving to others. Food is sharing and caring and should be imbued with that secret ingredient… love!

5. Cooking is a shared experience

You’ll notice that some of the greatest rewards that the top chefs value are those that come from the panel of judges or amongst the general public and audience who share in the food. I know that I certainly don’t put as much effort into cooking my food when I am only cooking for myself.

It is when we share of our talents and our food that the food takes on a whole other level of experience. Food and cooking and being a top chef is just like being a great artist. The sharing of your art and the interpretation of that art (food) is just as important as the creating of it.

Share your journey of food with others and bring the whole family into the experience of cooking if you can. Perhaps your son or daughter, father or brother or perhaps your lover would be delighted to help you as a sous chef.

This my friends is how to become the next Iron Chef of America in your own home and kitchen. Be motivated by the extreme talent that you see on Iron Chef America. And remember, it is not how you compare to others, but how dedicated you are to your own effort. That’s all that can be asked.

Bon appetit!