Iron Chef America – Battle Sturgeon – Viewing Party at Marche Bacchus

In the spirit of egotism, egoism, solipsism, vanity, pride, hubris, self-promotion and self-aggrandizement for which he is known, ELV hereby publicizes these snaps taken at last week’s ICA Viewing Party at Marche Bacchus. A good time was had by all as Emcee Robin (Lifestyles) Leach led the proceedings and NORM! (The Vegas Eye) Clarke took copious notes of everyone’s behavior (not really). Merci Beaucoup to Rhonda and Jeff Wyatt for hosting the event, and for the sturgeon stylings(?) of Chef Jean-David Groff Daudet.

Those four courses of sturgeon presented by Groff-Daudet were pretty much his swan song at the restaurant, as ELV has been informed he will be departing soon for another gig.

Bonne chance a notre ami Jean-David…and we can’t wait to taste what his successor: Jean-Paul Labadie will be whipping up at our favorite wine bar/wine store/restaurant.

FYI: The episode will be repeated tonight on Food Network.

8 thoughts on “Iron Chef America – Battle Sturgeon – Viewing Party at Marche Bacchus

  1. Mr. Curtas,

    We had our own ICA viewing party here in Chicago. Regrettably, I must tell you that I found your performance most unpalatable. Your attempts at brashness merely appeared rude, and your attempts at humor were only that.


  2. My, my, my. Shame on some of you. Some have been so quick to personally judge the judge—yet with no basis or substance to back up those personal attacks. In other words, what should be a discussion about the merits of the “food” has, as so often is the case when it comes to “food on television,” become a somewhat vicious attack on those who actually “tasted” the food.

    While I find this sort of salacious attack quite distasteful, such is often the fate of those who find themselves on a judge’s panel on a show about cooking. Whether it’s the low-cut, slithering gown Padma wears on “Top Chef” or the pre-determined moniker of “Curmudgeon” applied to Judge Curtas, some viewers apparently find pleasure in personally judging the judges. I don’t.

    I suppose my own lengthy experience cooking on television, (and realizing the impact that editing and sound bites have in the eyes of my viewers), has given me a somewhat different view of the judges on Iron Chef America. I don’t try to turn the comments of the judges into personal attacks. What I try to focus on are the judge’s comments about the food and the cooking. How silly of me.

    Yes, judging the judge may play into the hands of the producers, and yes, it may make the reality of reality TV a bit more devilish for the viewer, but is it really important? I don’t think so-but I know I’m in the minority demographic.

    I happen to be one of the few viewers of Iron Chef America who realizes that I’m not qualified to judge the judge. I’m not in the studio experiencing the wondrous (or impossibly distasteful), textures, aromas, presentations or flavors of the dishes. I can only watch from afar as the judges are given the pleasures that escape my senses.

    What some may find “unpalatable,” “borderline embarrassing” or that ELV “just plain stunk,” are mere blips that don’t register on my radar.

    You see, editing of the judge’s comments spills over to the comments of the commentators-they only report a small portion of what they saw, and that can leave others with the impression that ELV failed in his judging duties. He didn’t.

    Some thought that ELV’s comments were trite and simple-minded because of comments like “that tastes like crap” or “it’s awfully gimmicky,” (the silly cedar paper wrapped sturgeon).

    Yet they failed to report other comments ELV made-

    -“you should highlight the flavor without disguising the fish” (true ELV, sturgeon has a subtle flavor that shouldn’t be paired with bold flavors like lamb sausage, beans, saffron and mint Chef Symon).

    -“the fish gets lost,” (which it did, when it was butter-poached and served with a strong curried apple sauce). You’re right ELV, “it could have been any fish.”

    I found ELV’s comments quite refreshing and honest, unlike the fawning comments of the wine expert, Steve Olson. At one point, Mr. Olson apparently forgot that it was a “Battle Sturgeon” until ELV reminded him that the secret ingredient wasn’t pork. Mark another point on the chalkboard for ELV.

    In earlier comments on these pages about ELV’s judging debut on Iron Chef America, it was openly suggested that the Chef’s that compete should be given a free pass by the judges.

    Apparently this particular viewer feels that Chef’s whose reputation lands them on Food Network deserve a higher level of respect than say, any of the fine chefs who are cooking tonight in some of the finest dining rooms in Las Vegas-yet will never step foot in the Food Network studios.

    To think that Chef Symon, Morimoto, Batali or Flay shouldn’t be held to a consistently high standard by the judges because of their celebrity is ridiculous.

    In fact, the opposite should be the standard. Anyone with big enough kahuna’s to wear the moniker “Iron Chef,” should be able to withstand the constructive criticisms of even the toughest critic-including ELV.

    Chef Symon should be taken out to the woodshed for his snarly facial expressions when ELV dared to tell him that his smoked sturgeon dish was “not the most original.” It wasn’t. Smoked fish, red onion, radish and lemon zest blini may be quite tasty, it’s just not original.

    The biggest “loser” of “Battle Sturgeon” in my book, and the one worthy of the most criticism, isn’t ELV-it’s COMCAST Cable Company for mis-spelling ELV’s last name as C-U-R-T-I-S. Television isn’t only about appearances; it’s also about the details.

    Now do you think that I am so naïve as to assume I have even swayed some of you within even a wild boar’s hair closer to understanding or agreeing with my points? Doubtful, but I sure feel better for standing on my apple crate up North and shouting down to the desert that I think ELV did Las Vegas, the Chefs and Restaureteurs of Las Vegas, his family and his friends, quite proud.

    I, for one, was pouting all day last Sunday wishing that I was at ELV’s party at Marche Bacchus-instead I was sitting over a computer at my day job.

    Should one of you ever be so lucky as to catch the eye of Bruce Seidel and the Food Network and get invited to be a judge on “Iron Chef America,” I’m sure you won’t mind if we lob a few criticisms your way. Qualified criticisms of course.

    As a nice Jewish kid who works for me would say-“I should be so lucky………..”

  3. I’m looking for Steve Olsen. I heard you were on Iron Chef. I’m going to watch tonight. E-mail me, I would love to hear from you. P. HAhn

  4. A judge on a show like ICA, without a strong opionion, might as well not bother hoping to be invited back for a second show. John did what he should have by making an impression on the viewers. Love him or hate him, Melissa, you thought enough about him to find his website and blog about your feelings of the show. I think that speaks volumes to his performance…

  5. Post Number #2 by dr has been edited as follows for brevity and clarity:

    My, my, my. Shame on some of you … I find this sort of salacious attack quite distasteful … What I try to focus on are the judge’s comments about the food and the cooking. How silly of me … I’m not qualified to judge the judge … ELV’s comments were trite and simple-minded because … I found ELV’s comments quite refreshing and honest, unlike the fawning comments of … Chef Symon, Morimoto, Batali or Flay … In fact, the opposite should be the standard … It … may be quite tasty, it’s just not original … The biggest “loser” … isn’t ELV-it’s … I, … pouting all day last Sunday wishing that I was at ELV’s party at Marche Bacchus-instead I was sitting over a computer at my day job.

    As a nice Jewish kid who works for me would say-“I should be so lucky………..”

    ELV, does ICA want you back?

  6. Thank you DVR. You make being on the road livable. I don’t miss shows I care about. I finally got back from work in Europe and was able to see the episode. My wife had already seen it. When I told her that John was on it, she said at least he wouldn’t be the judge that was an ass. Unfortunately, it was john. She said she wondered why he came off that way since he always seemed like such a nice guy in his answers to my e-mails. Upon a quick watch, I could see her view. When we watched the episode with a more analytical mind, John comes off well. Now I know how I’d look on the show. Like an ass. Honest opinions without a little fawning to the other judges and guests comes off looking like an ass.

    I can see why the editing was done the way it was. There’s always three roles. The wine guy played the vacuous famous celebratory. Andrew Knowlton was the magazine authority. Normally we have Jeffrey Steingarten playing the curmudgeon. The wine guy did a great job of loving everything. The magazine guy offered opinions of how this type of dish should be done and if it was done properly, but rarely gave a real opinion about a dish. It was left to John to actually give a no nonsense opinion of the dish. That’s the tough job.

    I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. Las Vegas has always been full of pretension. The newspapers and pseudo serious magazines rarely give an honest review. John’s forte has always been giving us an honest opinion and telling us when the emperor has no clothes. We’ve not asked for subtlety. Post #2 did a good job of elaborating how most of the comments were well done and I have to believe accurate. Only one or two comments come off as harsh and brash compared to the pablum we have been trained to expect from this show. However, given the love fest we got from the wine guy, the show required picking up John’s toughest comments.

    Somehow, I doubt many of us are surprised that John has ended up being one of the more controversial judges. Thanks for putting it out there and being yourself.

  7. To dr,

    I regret that you are so delicate that you interpreted my comments as a salacious, vicious and personal attack. They were hardly so. And quite actually, any of us are qualified to judge the judges –certainly not on their opinions of the food (as we cannot taste it ourselves), but most emphatically on how their opinions are delivered.

    Regardless of the correctness of his evaluation of the food, Mr. Curtas appeared rude and humorless. If you wish to content yourself with believing that this was due only to the magic of the editing room, enjoy your delusion.

  8. I just saw the Iron Chef episode on a Food Network repeat. I really really hope they NEVER bring you back as a judge, you were horrible and your consistent failed attempts at “humor” were pathetic. You should run away from TV it is definitely not a medium for you, continue your blog or whatever that is you do, just DO NOT do TV you are horrible at it.

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