SpringHouse manager competes on Iron ChefPublished 10:43am Friday, January 13, 2012
Springhouse Restaurant General Manager and Executive Chef Rob McDaniel has had since July 2011 to get used to the idea of being on national television, but he said he’s ready for all the questions about his Iron Chef experience to be answered.
“I’ve gotten used to people asking me questions and me not being able to answer,” McDaniel said. “A lot of people know we went and competed, but that’s all we’ve been able to say.”
McDaniel was chosen to serve as sous chef for Chris Hastings, executive chef at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, for an episode of the show Iron Chef America.
“I worked for (Hastings) for a long time at Hot and Hot, and he is a consultant for Russell Lands,” McDaniel said. “He played a large part in the opening of Spring House Restaurant. We’ve got a good professional relationship, and I enjoy having him as a mentor.”
Food Network announced that the two competed against Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the episode, but details such as the secret ingredient for the episode are still under wraps.
Episode judges included Law & Order actor Anthony Anderson and recurring Iron Chef judges Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.
“There was so much going on the morning we got there, and then we finally realized who we were going up against,” McDaniel said. “But that was great because when Food Network called Chris and asked if he was interested, he said we want to go against the best person you have.”
McDaniel said he and Hastings prepared for the show by creating their own “kitchen stadium” in the Hot and Hot kitchen.
“We practiced for a month, setting up different scenarios three to four days a week from about 6 a.m. to noon,” McDaniel said. “We had to prepare to be on TV in front of millions of people. Chris said, ‘If you cut your finger or burn yourself, you’re going to be doing it in front of 6 to 8 million people.’”
McDaniel said though they tried to practice with unusual ingredients, they stuck to their roots.
“We did the food Hot and Hot is known for,” he said. “Chris is very organized and very precise in everything that he does, so it was no surprise to me when we started to train for this that we went at it in the same manner.”
Though McDaniel kept mum about the winner of the episode, he said he and Hastings were proud of what they accomplished.
“We went to compete, not to win or to lose,” he said. “We just went to have a good time, and we’re happy with what we did.”
The episode is set to air Feb. 26 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.