A fella we’re lucky to have in town. –The Hack
Chef Sameh Wadi, owner of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge will be the first Minnesotan to compete on Iron Chef America when he appears on the show later this month. Chef Wadi will take on Iron Chef Masahara Morimoto to determine whose cuisine reigns supreme. The episode premiers on Food Network at 8 p.m. Central Time, Sun. Jan. 24.
Wadi flew to Kitchen Stadium in New York in July 2009 to tape the episode and has been sworn to secrecy about any specifics regarding the competition until now.
“This has been a surreal experience,” said Chef Wadi. “I’ve been watching Iron Chef since I was 15 years old. Ten years later I’m one of the competitors. It’s truly amazing!”
Competing on Iron Chef America is just the latest in an impressive string of national and local achievements for the chef that opened his restaurant just three years ago at the age of 23. In 2008 and 2009 Wadi was a semi-finalist for the coveted James Beard―Rising Star award.
In addition, last fall Chef Wadi won City Pages’ annual Iron Fork competition. In June he was invited to participate in the 24th annual Chefs’ tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels at the Rockefeller Center in New York. Wadi was the only Midwest chef at this event working alongside
such other notable chefs as Daniel Boulud, Alfred Portale and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. That same month Chef Wadi also competed in the Walker Art Center’s annual CuisineArt 2009: From Palette to Palate museum fundraiser where his dish won the Duchamp Award for best interpretation and was the overall favorite of guest of honor, Wolfgang Puck.
These honors are in addition to Saffron being named Best New Restaurant by Mpls/St. Paul magazine and Restaurant of the Year by the Star Tribune when it opened in 2007.
Late last year Chef Wadi also launched his own line of gourmet spice mixes; Spice Trail by Chef Sameh Wadi. The spice blends are in response to Wadi’s fans wanting to know how they could recreate his vibrant flavors in their own cooking. Spice Trail spice blends are available at Saffron, as well as on the restaurant’s website.
Iron Chef America “Chef Sameh vs. Morimoto” Food Network Air Times:
Jan. 24, 2010 – 8 p.m. Central
Jan. 25, 2010 – 11 p.m. Central
Jan. 28, 2010 – 7 p.m. Central
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
Saffron is an upscale casual restaurant conveniently located in Minneapolis’ popular Warehouse District. It offers contemporary Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, featuring fresh, vibrant flavors. Signature dishes include Chef Wadi’s Lamb Shoulder cooked in a harissa sauce with house made lamb bacon and chickpeas, and a Salmon & Clam ―Tagine‖with saffron and preserved lemon. Saffron Restaurant & Lounge has been named one of ZAGAT’s Top American Restaurants for both 2009 and 2010.
Award-winning Executive Chef and owner Sameh Wadi is nationally recognized for his creative and engaging cuisine. According to Wadi,
the restaurant’s cuisine is inspired by what he grew up eating and what is around him today.
“I cook with flavors from the Mediterranean while using a Midwestern-American sensibility,” explains Wadi. “I feel that I’m an ambassador of my culture, so I love to introduce people to Middle Eastern cuisine – there is so much more than gyros and falafel!”