Chef Shota Nakajima of Adana on Capitol Hill was on the hot seat on Food Network's "Iron Chef Gauntlet."
When we last saw Shota Nakajima (Adana on Capitol Hill) on the premiere episode of “Iron Chef Gauntlet,” he looked chill, the camera shining on his boyish good looks and baby-face smile. He was barely seen cooking, which was good. The camera focused on the mishaps.
Well, on Sunday night, it was a pork battle and, ruh roh, Chef Nakajima’s ham dish was the worst.
He was on the chopping block. He had to stave off elimination in a “sudden-death showdown.”
But fear not Seattle fans. In a gift from the culinary gods, Nakajima’s opponent was Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland, Ohio, whose overworked dishes and follies were so bad, you would think the producers would try to keep him around just for the comic relief. Sawyer looks like a cross between Bo Brady (“Day of Our Lives”) and Papa Smurf.
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To be fair, Sawyer is a James Beard award-winning chef. But he has not been grace under pressure under the lights. Sawyer and Nakajima went head-to-head over a battle of bananas and plantains.
- Scallop and prawns in a plantain-and-miso sauce
- a fried, pickled dish of Naban snapper and banana
- a soy dish called Kuwayaki with salmon and banana
His challenger baked something akin to a chocolate-banana cake. His plating was so bad it was good. He unintentionally created abstract art.
Through sleight-of-hand editing and dramatic music, the producers made this showdown sound a lot closer than it really was.
You could see Nakajima had better knife skills. Better skillz in general. He had a better grasp of the ingredients. He used unripe plantain so it wouldn’t be too sweet to overwhelm his savory dishes.
The judges praised how well his salmon roe and banana went together.
Despite the producers trying to make this sound like a nail-biter, Nakajima easily won 33-25 (out of a possible 40 points).
As one Iron Chef contestant said, “He smoked him.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Nakajima will serve one of his wining dishes at his Capitol Hill restaurant this week. There will also be a viewing party at his Adana restaurant for next Sunday’s episode of “Iron Chef Gauntlet” at 9 p.m.