Whose Cuisine Reigned Supreme?

I finally got my first taste of stress in the kitchen last week in an Iron Chef-like competition against Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, or as I like to affectionately refer to him as my “one degree from Justin Timberlake” as he’s Sexyback’s executive chef in New York.

The competition was called, “Iron Chef: Battle of the Grill vs. the Wok” at the Rolling Pin and two weeks ago, you helped me come up with my menu!

You could not have picked more opposite competitors – he’s a big, bad-ass, king of the grill, with multiple heavyweight pit master championship belts that he twirls around his finger. Many tattoos. A long goatee that he whips around to slap annoying, hyperactive Chinese chicks.

Seriously, would you mess with this guy????

Dr BBQ moves so fast! Unfair advantage: he’s Flash Gordon in disguise.

And me? The only time I get any grill action is when Scott’s out of town and I can sneak in a hot, lusty affair with Weber, Charbroil or whatever his name is. I’m too much of a wimp to get my belly button pierced, let alone volunteer to be stabbed repeatedly ten times per second by a needle filled with ink. No, I’d just prefer to click-clack in my 3-inch heels, flip my perky pony tail and pretend I’m saying “prune” like the Olson twins to create that perfect pout.

yes, I really do cook in heels – I have to, I’m only 5’2″!!!

Like the real Iron Chef competition, we had a panel of judges who scored us for plating, taste, use of ingredient and being able to deliver the goods on time. And that’s where the similarities end. You think Iron Chef is intense? We each had 7 kitchen assistants that we only met seconds before the competition started, and these were regular people who PAID to have a fun evening of learning, cooking and eating. Do you know what that means? No swearing! No calling any team members “donkeys” a la Gordon Ramsey! No sabotaging Dr. BBQ’s ingredients!

Four dishes were to be served, an appetizer, main, side dish and dessert. We had to feed 24 people and the appetizer had to be served 40 minutes after start. While Dr. BBQ, who’s been through over 300 competitions, was joking around and knockin’ back drinks with his team, I went into OCD overdrive. I didn’t have time to chit-chat and memorize names, so I assigned numbers, like House. #5 was my sous chef, a 13 year old kid. I busted out my spreadsheet which detailed which team member did what job at precisely what time . #4, skin the salmon! #2 grate the corn! #6 chop the scallions! #7 don’t burn the ham!


you thought I was joking about the spreadsheets, didn’t you?!?

teaching #4 how to skin salmon…”hold your knife at an angle, keep the edge of blade pressed against cutting board and gently slide back and forth.”

But after the first 20 minutes, the spreadsheet was ditched. Just because I’ve dined at The French Laundry before, it certainly doesn’t make me a Thomas Keller, who runs his kitchen with military-like precision. We even ended up losing the recipes, there was no time for the team to read the recipe and instead I quickly called out instructions on the fly and seasoned the entire meal by taste. While I was totally off on my Minced Chicken and Corn Soup seasoning (my fault, I didn’t add enough salt) our Asian Herb Crusted Salmon with Garlic Butter Noodles was spot on – thanks to #3 who cooked the salmon perfectly and #1 who made sure we had all ingredients ready for the noodles. The Chilled Sweet Coconut with Tapioca and Melon was the most perfect dessert to cool and calm the palate.

Never trust a man who wears blue rubber gloves and calls himself a “Dr.”

Dr. BBQ’s Melon Cocktail

So who’s cuisine reigned supreme? I’m proud to say that team Steamy Kitchen kicked some BBQ butt! Well, in all honesty, out of the possible 200 points, I barely squeaked a win with less than a 9 point lead. But hey, it’s my first cooking competition ever and I’ll take it!

The winning moment – champagne! See my team? Kent, the 13yr old was my kick-butt sous-chef, fried some good Garlic Butter Noodles!

My team rocked – I can’t believe how quickly they learned how to skin a side of salmon and wok-fry! Now that I’ve won and my head is as big as a blimp, I get to choose my next challenger. Come on – you tell me which local chef I should challenge in August. And if you’ve ever wanted a taste of the kitchen heat, sign up to participate at Rolling Pin in Brandon!

Thank you judges (front) Jeff Houck (Tampa Tribune), Pam Brown (Brandon Chamber of Commerce), Dave Wirth (Tampa Bay’s Channel 10) and host Dave West (Rolling Pin) – and to all the assistants, Lynne, Dennis, Lynette and Danita who helped!

Read Channel 10’s Dave Wirth’s post on the judging!


My Menu:

Minced Chicken and Corn Soup (recipe going into cookbook!)

Asian Herb Crusted Salmon (recipe going into cookbook!)

Garlic Scallion Butter Noodles

Chilled Sweet Coconut Tapioca with Melon

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Comments 0

  1. SpecialEd

    Congratulations Jaden! Being an avid BBQer and Smoker, I am a fan of Ray’s and have his cookbooks(we both cook on ceramic cookers). Beating him was no small feat! I’m you all had a great time!


  2. Shannon B

    WOW, Jaden, what an awesome experience. Those melon cocktails look like the perfect capstone to a hard day’s cooking πŸ˜€ mmmhhh πŸ˜€

  3. The Survival Gourmet

    Way to go Jaden! Great job! I’m proud of you!

    Plus I get to give Ray a special “Neener, Neener, Neener!” LOL!

  4. giabella designs

    Congrats! What fun you must be having! I still need to stop by to see you! BTW, you have been tagged. Stop by my blog…..miss you
    Sue Ann

  5. Dr. BBQ

    You are one badass little Chinese chick. Congratulations to you Jaden. I cooked well and just flat got beat by better food. It must have been a lot of fun to judge. Let’s do it again sometime.

    All the best,


  6. Cakebrain

    Fantastic menu items, Jaden. Congratulations on whip-wokkin’ his butt! I could go for some of that cold tapioca coconut melon soup…it looks so good!

  7. mochachocolata rita


    I have to scoop my bowl of rice from the top shelf with on my tippy toes too, cooking in heels sounds like a brilliant idea! hohoho…maybe in nothing but heels? AWWWHAHWAHAHAHAHA

  8. Mal Carne

    “Now that I’ve won and my head is as big as a blimp, I get to choose my next challenger. Come on – you tell me which local chef I should challenge in August.”

    [val kilmer] I’ll be your huckleberry [/val kilmer]

  9. Keith

    I’m going to start taking cooking lessons just so I can challenge the “Asian Sensation” next time I’m in Florida πŸ™‚ ….. Congrats on your win!

  10. Mal Carne

    oops, got so caught up channeling Tombstone that I forgot to say congrats on whooping some BBQ ass!

  11. Inne

    That looks like a fun day, Jaden! To be honest, I think you’re way scarier than Dr bbq, but your 12 year old sous-chef survived, so the spreadsheets can’t have been that bad πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the dessert recipe! I’ve been experimenting with tapioca for a dessert I’m planning, but the ‘soup’ bit hasn’t worked so far, it always sets. Will try once more using your recipe.

  12. Dr. Biggles

    Well, that’s pretty fricken cool. And painfully close. Taking a look back, did you at any moment consider cooking to the judge’s palates? Attempting to read them and see what they might appreciate more or less?


  13. Carrie Hasson

    So cool! I really wanted to go to this…sorry I missed it it looks like you guys had tons of fun! Was there a secret ingredient? Melon perhaps? So funny to see your sous chef, my daughter is in cooking camp with him this week and she thinks he is just so cuuuute lol. Any more photo styling cooking classes in the works? Was at Homegoods yesterday eyeing all kinds of “props” for my photo styling. Dying to take some more food pics again!

  14. dhanes

    Congrats Jaden!

    Damn, wish i was paying more attention to you, would have loved to come down for that…

  15. Mary Lib

    Yay Jaden !! We won !! That was such a fun night — and the best part: we got to EAT !! Thanks for being our great leader.

  16. rita

    YAAAY, JADEN!!! WOOHOO!! CONGRATS!! now, sit back and enjoy those cocktails. hubby and i are going to celebrate it here for you, across the pond.

  17. Saph

    Congrats!!! I’m still mad at myself for not reading the date correctly, otherwise, I would’ve been able to be there!!

  18. White On Rice Couple

    How fun!! Congrats on Team Steamy!

    You rock, cooking in heels. I prefer my flip flops, but I suppose there are times like your’s where you need to show some girl power. I’ll have to practice around the house a bit first!

  19. Dave West

    Jaden, you are such a hoot. What great wit and spirit! Everyone had a great time and the food was great. Can’t wait for your next go-round in the kitchen ring! Team Steamy Reigns Supreme!

    Thanks Chef Dave
    Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium

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