Iron Chef Alamo Round Two
'Black Orpheus' battle
After the great success of the first Iron Chef Alamo Drafthouse competition benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank, the Alamo folks decided to do it again. This time, defending Iron Chef champion Trish Eichelberger from the Village took on challenger Robert Rhoades from Hudson's on the Bend. The "secret ingredient" was the stunning 1959 film Black Orpheus, Marcel Camus' masterpiece that tells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval. One of my all-time favorite movies on the big screen paired with five courses of Brazilian-themed cuisine was enough to make me scrape the ice off of my car. But it was the mental picture of Alamo founder Tim League dressed in a red kimono biting a bell pepper that sealed the deal for me.
The chefs didn't only battle each other: The ice storm was the real challenge. Both chefs had to overcome missing ingredients, no-show wine deliveries, and last-minute driving in the slush to pick up fish at FedEx. Thanks to their talented staffs and creative solutions, the chefs managed to make the sold-out event an amazing success. Although serving more than a thousand plates in 90 minutes makes it difficult to get your food while it's still hot, every dish was nevertheless delicious. Chef Eichelberger's menu was more Brazilian and more in tune with the film. Her feijoada topped with grilled wild boar spareribs, collard greens, and tangerine mojo was the best main dish. And her coconut semifreddo served over a warm roasted banana sauce and topped with a chocolate Jesus just like the one atop Rio's famous Sugarloaf landmark was to die for. But the people's choice was challenger and new Iron Chef Alamo champion, Rhoades. Congratulations, chef. I can't wait till round three.