10.08.2007

The Next Iron Chef: Speedy Morou Hangs On

Spoilers ahead...

A bloody battle played out last night on the premiere episode of Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef." And our hometown ambassador, chef Morou Ouattara of Alexandria's Farrah Olivia, made quite a first impression.

Like that kid in school who slammed his pencil down when he finished the test first, making everyone around him feel the heat, Morou left the other seven competitors in the dust in two challenges — at least according to the clock. Unfortunately, his samurai knife skills didn't help him win this round. But he survives to compete another day.

In the first of two challenges to test speed and artistry, the contestants were given 15 minutes to complete various knife tasks like deboning a chicken, fileting a whole salmon and slicing a daikon so thin you could read a newspaper through it.

Morou ran circles around the competition and finished with three minutes to spare, leaving New Orleans' John Besh shaking his head with an incredulous "holy shit." So what if Morou almost lost a finger or two along the way? He certainly didn't appear to be the only one bleeding.

But alas, the judging wasn't based on speed alone, and Morou lost points for sloppiness. Aaron Sanchez ended up taking the "fastest knife in the kitchen" title.

The artistry test had contestants making dessert from savory ingredients like tripe, squid and bacon. Morou's chorizo risotto with coconut milk and pickled currants — which he finished well before the other chefs, I should add — wasn't enough to impress the judges, and Besh's trio of catfish desserts won.

Still, it was a strong showing for D.C.'s representative, and Metrocurean will be rooting for the hometown chef through the short series. Chef Tracy des Jardins was the first to be sent home. Read more about the new show here.

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