Yes I’m hooked on “The Next Iron Chef”…because fellow Brooksider Celine Tio is in the competition. She’s a formidable competitor for the male chefs on the show–even though they don’t seem to think so. As of last Sunday, there are five competitors left–and Celine is the only female.
I’ve eaten at Julian, Tio’s restaurant located here in Brookside, and interviewed Celine for this blog. She’s a friendly, no-nonsense, dedicated chef and doesn’t have the drama personality so many reality shows attract. Each week I watch her and think, ‘good for you–just crank out the food, stay above the bickering and go for the win’. She’s so unlike the men who seem to be much more cut-throat and ego-driven. Celine has had to face an unruly outdoor flaming grill of fire and a plastic coated bowl melting at the stove–of course she’s frazzled but manages to overcome the problems and create winning dishes. I suspect she cringes at some of the staged antics she had to go through on the show–the promo photo of a tough-looking, intimidating chef isn’t her at all.
Last Sunday’s episode had the chefs preparing four dishes, representing the north, south, east and west areas of the U.S. Celine cooked various representations of a lobster roll, dirty rice, pork belly pot roast and a Philly snack cake. She didn’t win the challenge, but she ‘survived to cook another day’ –meaning she wasn’t eliminated.
Chef Tio is a master at marketing her restaurant and, along with her appearance in the show, is featuring a special Sunday seating at 7pm. Dinner is served that includes food she cooked on the show; at 8pm diners stay to watch the next episode on tv. The Next Iron Chef tapings concluded months ago–we don’t know at this point if she was the ultimate winner. But the fact that she’s made it this far–and turned the appearance into a smart publicity tool for her restaurant–surely makes all the frantic competition worth it.
I would love to interview her again about the Iron Chef experience–some good behind-the-scenes stories that any viewer would relish hearing! In the meantime, I’ll just have to make another date for dining at her place and hope she can pass along a story or two as she table-hops through the restaurant. Even if she doesn’t ultimately become The Next Iron Chef, at least more local Kansas City folks are discovering–and patronizing–Julian. It’s every chef’s dream to open their own restaurant. She did it during the economy’s collapse and survived, thrived through her own hard work, great food and dedicated staff. Support local businesses…dine at Julian for lunch or dinner. And don’t forget dessert…mmmm, the chocolate pudding and ginger donut!
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