It was over as soon as it started. When the Iron Chef America secret ingredient was revealed to be a Paley’s Place favorite -the humble radish – the crowd gathered for the screening party at the Ecotrust building in the Pearl District burst into cheers for the inevitable victory of a hometown hero. Dream Team Vitaly Paley, Benjamin Bettinger (of Beaker and Flask), and Paley’s chef de cuisine Patrick McKee left the Iron Chef crying into his radish congee, earning top marks in both taste and originality by using every bit of the farmers’ market favorite. A pioneer of farm-to-fork cuisine in Portland, Paley made the Iron Chef challenge look easy, whipping up radish green and ricotta gnocchi with Dungeness crab, radish sorbet, sous vide daikon radish and turnips with bacon and chanterelle mushrooms, and a watermelon radish tarte tatin with Granny Smith apples, a watermelon radish caramel sauce, and radish green and mint syrup. The judges – Cooking Channel host Bal Arnisen, author Michael Ruhlman, and PR guru Karine Bakhoum – couldn’t help but fall for Paley’s comforting and creative menu that read like a love letter to spring in the Pacific Northwest.
Check out the photos of last night’s screening, complete with Kimberly Paley’s gong banging, the presentation of the "Fork to the City" from the mayor’s office, plate after plate of radishes on toast, and radish temporary tattoos. When asked if he’d be sporting the fake ink with the rest of the Paley’s Place staff, Paley smiled and said, "No, I’ll be getting the real thing." An Iron Chef tattoo? We’ll hold you to that, Vitaly.
Want a taste of the winning dishes? Live out your Iron Chef judge fantasies at Paley’s Place – the Northwest PDX institution will be serving the radish plates a la carte and as a comprehensive tasting menu all week long, with selections available throughout April.