Six Courses at the Fifth Floor, Plus an “Iron Chef” Champ

Gerald Hirigoyen's squab basquaise with spring vegetables.

Monday night’s James Beard Foundation dinner at the swank Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco featured a who’s who of chefs behind the burners: Laurent Manrique of the Aqua Development Corp. of San Francisco; Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan Foods; Jean Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse in Berkeley; Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade and Bocadillos, both in San Francisco; and Jennie Lorenzo and Lionel Walter of the Fifth Floor.

(Left to Right): Ariane Daguin, Jennie Lorenzo, and Laurent Manrique

But it was another chef who was merely a guest that night who received another big round of applause: David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, whom everyone in attendance that night put their hands together to honor his triumphant victory the night before on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” show.

For those who missed the televised battle that was filmed months ago, Kinch trounced Iron Chef Bobby Flay by a whopping 10 points, mesmerizing the judges with his creative, elegant dishes spotlighting the secret ingredient of cabbage.

I think I was most struck by how cool, calm, and collected Kinch appeared to be in the hour-long battle that is filmed in one continuous shot. Kinch said he was nervous. But it certainly didn’t show.

Ever since it aired, the restaurant has been inundated with calls from diners who want to know if Kinch will recreate his “Battle Cabbage” dishes at a future dinner at Manresa. Kinch said he is weighing the possibility, so stay tuned about his decision.

Meantime, you can vicariously enjoy some of the dishes prepared Monday night to honor cookbook author Paula Wolfert:

(Ariane Daguin’s roasted foie gras with shallot confit and quince compote.)

(Jean Pierre Moulle’s Atlantic cod, oysters,and leek fondue.)

(Lionel Walter’s gateau basque traditionnel, and feuillantine de chocolate aux noisettes.)

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  • I vaguely remember catching that episode – I often have the tv on in the background while I’m playing in the kitchen. It’s always extra exciting to see a challenger beat the Iron Chefs and take them down a peg once in a while! 😉

  • Yum, that looked like a nice way to start off your week. What were the other courses? … I missed the two Iron Chef America episodes with Bay Area ties (Kinch and Aziza’s chef), so I hope I can catch them on repeats. I think it shows how creative the chefs are in this area that they can go head-to-head with the top New York chefs.

  • Wow, this looks fantastic – if you need someone to come hold your pencil the next time you attend one of these events, – let me know. I enjoy the Fifth Floor.

  • For inquiring tummies, the other dishes served that night were:
    Laurent Manrique’s veloute of roasted chestnut with chicken quenelles, a lovely, bold soup poured tableside; and Jennie Lorenzo’s rabbit in jurancon with sauteed morels and green garlic.

    OysterCulture: You might have to arm-wrestle my hubster for the role of pencil-holder. 😉

  • I was in New Orleans on vacation and made it a point to get back to the hotel in time to watch it. He totally deserves it. His dishes were just on a different level from Flay’s.

  • It would be silly not to have a Battle Cabbage dinner. Ron Siegel made a name for himself and a killing on his Iron Chef dinner.

  • I saw the Aziza battle, and was quite impressed, but I will need to catch this on the repeat on Food TV.

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