Kevin Naderi to Face Off at Iron Fork Against...

We have secured a second chef for the third annual Iron Fork competition at this year's Menu of Menus Extravaganza. This brave fellow will be competing against Kevin Naderi of Roost in a secret-ingredient cooking challenge moderated by Randy Evans of Haven to determine which of them is the Iron Fork master.

Here are some hints:

  • He was born in Manhattan...Kansas.
  • He has worked with Lucky Dog Rescue to raise money and foster homeless dogs.
  • He never went to culinary school. Instead, he started as a line cook at the Aquarium at Kemah.
  • He served as the private chef for country singer George Strait.
  • He's an avid fisherman, and that comes through in much of his Gulf Coast-influenced cooking.
  • His last meal would probably be a rib eye, pounded out, chicken-fried, with mashed potatoes and gravy on it.
  • Any guesses?

    It's Kevin Bryant, chef/owner of Eleven XI!

    That's right, this year we'll pit Kevin against Kevin in an epic battle of the Kevins.

    Well, anyway, it should be fun. Though Bryant uses more seafood in his cooking than Naderi, the two chefs have a similar interest in comfort food with a Houston twist. Naderi is famous for Roost's divine fried cauliflower and donut holes, while Bryant's XI Madame at Eleven XI is a brunch dish I still dream about.

    Congrats to both of the chefs for being selected, and thanks to both of them for accepting our challenge. We'll see you and them at Menu of Menus on April 8!

    Here's a little more info about Bryant and his time working as a private chef for George Strait. It'll give you an idea about the chef's fun-loving personality. This is taken from an interview with Mai Pham published in January 2012.

    When I first started cooking for him, I didn't know what he liked. I'd just throw the dice out there, and he'd always say everything was great. Then one day, just as a joke, he said, "This is the second best thing I've ever had in my life." So I said, "Only second best? What's the best thing you've had?" You could see the wheels turning in his head, he was coming up with something, and then he said, "Flaming filet of yak Peking."

    So for a couple of months, I was working with this exotic meat company to get filet of yak with the skin on it, and when I finally had it, I incorporated it into a six-course tasting. I had this piece of yak, and I separated the skin, and it was all crispy and I was going to light it up. When we came to the course, I said, "Okay, are you ready? " And he says, "What is it?" And I said, "You will know exactly what it is."

    And this is after several months of him joking about how all my dishes were only second best to his flaming yak Peking. So I went out to the table, put the yak down and went and lit each one of them on fire. And he looks down at it, and he started laughing. And everyone's laughing so hard, they're in tears. And I said, "There's your flaming filet of yak Peking. Now, how's that?" And he laughed and responded, "It's the best thing I've ever had in my life!"

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