February 23, 2004

Iron Chef Morimoto Delights Statler Palates

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Masaharu Morimoto’s cuisine reigned supreme last night at the Statler. The Iron Chef of Japanese cuisine from the Food Network TV series, Morimoto helped students prepare an elaborate dinner for students, faculty, alumni and the local community as part of the Hotel School’s yearly Guest Chef Series.


Following Morimoto’s menu recommendations, students in Hotel Administration 403, Specialty Food and Beverage Operations: Guest Chefs, planned, marketed, and helped prepare the five-course meal. Diners were treated to three types of tartar with a soy sauce mousse, octopus and scallops with a vinaigrette and jelly, egg custard with duck and foie gras, Morimoto surf and turf (kobe beef and jumbo shrimp in a tangy wasabi sauce), and green tea ice cream.

The $125 per person dinner also featured wine donated by Freixenet, Beringer Blass Wine Estates, and Charmer Industries. Two of Morimoto’s sakes and his Rogue Hazelnut Ale were served as well.

Emily Nester ’04 was in line at Kinko’s and saw a student making posters for the event. As a fan of Iron Chef, she decided to come out to sample the chef’s Italian, French and Chinese-influenced Japanese fare.

“I’m expecting to be surprised,” Nester said of the dinner that awaited.

In the kitchen, preparations for the event were hectic. For the students involved, “it’s been a huge ordeal,” said Daniel Tavan ’04.

Students were particularly challenged to find high quality ingredients like Kobe beef belly, giant octopus, and the various fish used in the tartar, Tavan said.

Morimoto, once a minor league baseball player in Japan, was last a Cornell guest chef in 1998. At the time Morimoto was executive chef at Nobu, in New York City, and had just begun to vanquish challengers on Iron Chef, a show of dueling cuisine produced in Japan and picked up by the Food Network for the domestic market.

Morimoto now has his own restaurant, Morimoto, in Philadelphia, and is planning to open another in New York City’s Chelsea Market. Morimoto also will film new Iron Chef shows soon, according to Danielle Smith, assistant general manager at Morimoto.


Smith attributed part of Morimoto’s eagerness to return to Cornell to a group of hotel school students who visited his Philadelphia restaurant and spoke with the chef.

For hotel students not putting on the event, the evening provided a welcome opportunity to see their peers in action.

As Serena Stein ’04 put it, “when you’re just attending you can really enjoy the show.”

After the dinner, Nester and Will Devine ’04 shared their impressions.

“The wines and beer they chose complemented the courses very well,” said Devine, whose favorite course was the surf and turf.

Nester was most impressed by the “different kinds of textures and tastes” that were put together

“The dinner was exceptional– actually, it was beyond exceptional,” Nester said, adding that “on a twenty point scale I’d give [the dinner] a nineteen.”

Archived article by Dan Galindo