Young and Hungry

Should Have Seen This Coming: ‘Iron Chef’ Visits White House for ‘Kitchen Garden’ Challenge

comerford flay

Comerford and Flay get fresh (veggies) in the White House garden.

Jeesh, speaking of predictions, Y&H should have guessed this would happen as soon as the White House broke ground on its kitchen garden in March: Iron Chef America has trotted out three of its, ahem, heaviest hitters to cook a meal from ingredients plucked from the hugely symbolic garden.

The special two-hour episode of Iron Chef America, dubbed with a stunning lack of subtlety, Super Chef Battle, features Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse, who take on Bobby Flay and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford in the competition.

The episode has already been filmed, and according to The New York Times' account, First Lady Michelle Obama laid out the ground rules to the teams (they had to cook five dishes using ingredients from the White House kitchen garden) and put in a good plug for her Healthy Kids Initiative.

The show will air on Sunday, Jan. 3, on the Food Network.

Not surprisingly, the air date is politically tinged. So says Y&H's virtual friend, Obama Foodorama, who writes:

The show's January airdate is timed perfectly to be right before Congress comes back into session, when legislators will be addressing the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which provides federal funding for school feeding programs. Better school lunches are one of Mrs. Obama's priorities, and President Obama's too; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack frequently notes in his public remarks that this was the very first subject President Obama discussed with him during their "job interview."

And here's another interesting twist: The ingredients used for the actual cooking challenge in Kitchen Stadium were not from the White House garden. So says both The New York Times and Obama Foodorama, who notes:

Today, the chefs reunited in New York in the Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium, the stage set where the competition part of the show occurs. In addition to the "secret ingredient" of White House Kitchen Garden veggies (stand-in organic veggies were used for the actual filming–) the chefs were given a baby pig, and a pantry of dairy products to work with, among other things. Guest judges for the competition part of the episode were cookbook author/chef Nigella Lawson, actress Jane Seymour, and Olympic swimming champ Natalie Coughlin.

Photo courtesy of Obama Foodorama

  • Former Staffer

    Wow. That's really just sad. The Food network being cool trend is so over. Everything is delicious, the chefs are all canned ham and bambis, no one's sauce ever breaks.

    ICA is camp and not in a good way.

  • Lynnette

    Thank your for your research.

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  • Patricia Culb

    I love watching the cooking shows. I watch all of the iron chef shows but this one was a big disappointment. I think that is was fixed so that the white house would win the other team did a better job and they should of got what they deserved. I would not ever watch another show that had the white house involved again. They all worked hard but the wrong people won for the wrong reasons.

  • Howard

    I watched the Iron Chef with Bobby Flay and Cristeta Comerford vs. Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse ... and the vegetables weren't the only thing that was phony. When the judges tasted the food, it was extremely obvious that they were blown away by Mario Batali's and Emeril Lagasse's food, while politely complimentary over Flay's and Comerford's food. But, since Michelle Obama's food program and her chef were on the line, the truth had to take a back seat to what was political correct ... and, nobody, including the Food Network, wants to get on the bad side of Michelle Obama. Too bad, the Food Channel's credibility had to be sacrificed in order to appease the politically powerful.