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Bobby Flay and Local Chef Rumble in Kitchen Stadium

It’s shot in a studio, lit within an inch of its life, and hosted by a hokey acrobat-slash-actor playing the descendant of an equally hokey yet far less agile Japanese actor.

Yet, for all its manufactured Hollywood glitter factor, Food Network’s culinary competition, Iron Chef America, is just that. When you strip away the BS, what viewers are left with is two skilled chefs spending an hour preparing five-or-more dishes that taste good enough to hold up to extreme nit-pickery, look amazing, and reach beyond the boundaries presented in a restaurant environment.

Recently, Jason Knibb, the executive chef at La Jolla’s NINE-TEN, flew out to New York City to tape an episode in which he went skillet-to-skillet with Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Whenever local cooks or venues get national attention, eating industry insiders like myself pray the networks get it right. For every gifted chef or restaurateur that gets their 15 minutes of fame, there’s some dump (sorry: diner, drive-in, or dive) hardly anybody in town knows about, cares about, or would actually be caught dead at that gets unmerited screen time.

In selecting Knibb, Food Network casters did San Diego’s scene proud. His food has been some of the most consistently delicious, beautiful, heightened, and worldly in the county for years. His plates are the type that look so pristine and artful I hate to dig in and ruin the view. Yet every time I’ve done so, I’ve been glad I got over playing the part of a hungry wrecking ball.

I’m also no stranger to Flay’s food, having eaten at several of his restaurants from NYC to Las Vegas. These two seem evenly matched. While their dishes take cues from different cultural backgrounds (Flay’s centers around the flavors of the American Southwest while Knibb borrows from his Jamaican upbringing), both enjoy awakening palates using spices for more than just their incendiary qualities. They also bring an element of whimsy via the flavor combinations and plating of their dishes. Personally, I’d give the edge to Knibb’s cuisine, but there’s no substitute for (and perhaps no attribute more important than) experience when it comes to competing.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see how our region’s first Iron Chef America competitor does when his episode airs tonight on Food Network. Want to cheer chef on as a member of Team Knibb? Stop by his restaurant at 9 p.m. for a special viewing party featuring small bites and specialty cocktails. NINE-TEN is located inside the Grande Colonial hotel at 910 Prospect Street.

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It’s shot in a studio, lit within an inch of its life, and hosted by a hokey acrobat-slash-actor playing the descendant of an equally hokey yet far less agile Japanese actor.

Yet, for all its manufactured Hollywood glitter factor, Food Network’s culinary competition, Iron Chef America, is just that. When you strip away the BS, what viewers are left with is two skilled chefs spending an hour preparing five-or-more dishes that taste good enough to hold up to extreme nit-pickery, look amazing, and reach beyond the boundaries presented in a restaurant environment.

Recently, Jason Knibb, the executive chef at La Jolla’s NINE-TEN, flew out to New York City to tape an episode in which he went skillet-to-skillet with Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Whenever local cooks or venues get national attention, eating industry insiders like myself pray the networks get it right. For every gifted chef or restaurateur that gets their 15 minutes of fame, there’s some dump (sorry: diner, drive-in, or dive) hardly anybody in town knows about, cares about, or would actually be caught dead at that gets unmerited screen time.

In selecting Knibb, Food Network casters did San Diego’s scene proud. His food has been some of the most consistently delicious, beautiful, heightened, and worldly in the county for years. His plates are the type that look so pristine and artful I hate to dig in and ruin the view. Yet every time I’ve done so, I’ve been glad I got over playing the part of a hungry wrecking ball.

I’m also no stranger to Flay’s food, having eaten at several of his restaurants from NYC to Las Vegas. These two seem evenly matched. While their dishes take cues from different cultural backgrounds (Flay’s centers around the flavors of the American Southwest while Knibb borrows from his Jamaican upbringing), both enjoy awakening palates using spices for more than just their incendiary qualities. They also bring an element of whimsy via the flavor combinations and plating of their dishes. Personally, I’d give the edge to Knibb’s cuisine, but there’s no substitute for (and perhaps no attribute more important than) experience when it comes to competing.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see how our region’s first Iron Chef America competitor does when his episode airs tonight on Food Network. Want to cheer chef on as a member of Team Knibb? Stop by his restaurant at 9 p.m. for a special viewing party featuring small bites and specialty cocktails. NINE-TEN is located inside the Grande Colonial hotel at 910 Prospect Street.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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