Portland’s Paley Reigns Supreme in A Battle of Radishes

On Sunday night, Portlanders rallied across the city as local chef Vitaly Paley took on Iron Chef Jose Garces on this week’s episode of Food Network’s Iron Chef America. As owner and head chef of Northwest favorite, Paley’s Place, Chef Paley is no stranger to the quick pace of a kitchen, though he admitted that he was a bit anxious about the taping.

“I was nervous the morning before while eating breakfast, but once I got to the studio, there was just no time to be. [Food Network executives] were really good at putting you at ease – they really just want you to be there and focus on cooking, which is really nice,” said Paley. “It was nice to know what the ingredient finally was. A lot of the dishes I had thought about in my head, I had to drop because they wouldn’t work. But, I am comfortable with the radish, even though it is a challenging ingredient. It really is a testament to the Pacific Northwest, a lot of the farmer’s here have these amazing radishes.”

So, what was it like in the famed Kitchen Stadium? Paley said it was “completely silent and filled with fog,” noting that it was “a little daunting being followed around by five to ten cameras while cooking.”

Daunting or not, Chef Paley wowed the judges with his five course radish tasting menu complete with a radish sorbet and even a radish dessert, a watermelon radish tarte tatin with Granny Smith apples, a watermelon radish caramel sauce and radish greens and mint syrup. And while all the dishes looked great on camera (my favorite dish was the radish greens and ricotta gnocchi), Chef Paley had a different pick of the evening.

“My favorite dish was probably the daikon radish and turnips cooked sous vide with bacon and chanterelle mushrooms, accompanied by pork tenderloin with horseradish – it was the most cohesive dish of the night. A close second would be the first course, the radish quartet appetizer. I wanted to blow the judges away from the first bite,” said Paley.

When the final judgment was announced, Paley’s cuisine reigned supreme as he defeated Chef Garces by a mere five points. Congrats Vitaly!

Interested in tasting the winning dishes for yourself? The Iron Chef menu will be served at Paley’s Place for the rest of the week and select dishes will be featured throughout the rest of the month.

~Kirsten Saladow

*Photo credit: Food Network

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