Win: Russell Lands Vice President Roger Holliday and McDaniel, right, celebrate the “Iron Chef America” victory. Natalie Nettles | The Outlook

Archived Story

‘By one sweet point’

Published 4:40pm Friday, March 2, 2012

Springhouse Executive Chef Rob McDaniel assists in taking down celebrity chef Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America”

Sunday night’s episode of the popular Food Network show “Iron Chef America” resulted in sweet victory for Springhouse Executive Chef Rob McDaniel.

McDaniel served in the episode as sous chef for Chris Hastings, executive chef at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, and defeated celebrity Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a one-point victory.

Springhouse hosted a private viewing party for McDaniel and his friends and family at the restaurant Sunday night, and cheers erupted as show host Mark Dacascos announced Hastings as the winner.

“It was awesome. It was a lot of fun and a great event all-around,” said McDaniel, who had kept the results of the show a secret since its taping last July. “It was worthwhile to keep it a secret for so long. I don’t think it would have had the same effect on everyone here had they known.”

Each week on “Iron Chef America,” world-class chefs battle one of the legendary Iron Chefs of America – Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces, Michael Symon or Marc Forgione – in New York’s Kitchen Stadium. The chefs compete to see who can prepare the best five dishes in an hour containing a secret ingredient that varies from show to show.

Sunday night’s secret ingredient was sausage, which received a round of applause from those watching the show at Springhouse.

“We were happy,” McDaniel added. “Being from the South, sausage is just in our blood.”

The results are scored on taste, originality and plating and Sunday’s episode was judged by “Law & Order” actor Anthony Anderson and recurring Iron Chef judges Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.

McDaniel, who previously worked at Hot and Hot Fish Club, has been employed with Russell Lands On Lake Martin at Springhouse at Russell Crossroads since November 2008.

Hastings and McDaniel were joined on their team by another former Hot and Hot chef de cuisine Sedesh Boodram and McDaniel said the trio practiced for a month prior to the show’s taping, setting up different scenarios three to four days a week from about 6 a.m. to noon.

McDaniel said it was an honor to appear on the show and compete against Flay, who has appeared on “Iron Chef America” more than 50 times and has a 70 percent winning percentage.

He added that it was very special to watch the premiere of the show Sunday with his friends and family at Springhouse.

“Several of my friends from Birmingham came down and my parents were here, so it was all really special,” he said.

“The whole thing – from the moment Chris called me and asked me to do it, to when I talked to him again last night after the show – was just a great experience. It was just one of those things that I was very honored to be asked to be a part of.”

The episode is currently scheduled to re-air on The Food Network March 3 at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., as well as March 4 at 1 a.m.

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