This is not your aunt's stuffed cabbage roll. (Photo courtesy Roost)
Stuffed cabbage roll? That’s something my aunt Gladys, the one who spoke to imaginary people and made me wear a suit coat (she was partial to seersucker) to the table, cooked weekly. But wait, she never stuffed hers with lamb and pistachios, and she was not cooking sous vide back then. Hers would probably not Beat Bobby Flay, but Kevin Naderi’s did.
The chef and owner of Roost, a great little Houston restaurant in Montrose, used those ingredients — plus tomatoes and feta — and that cooking method to vanquish the Iron Chef, who boasts an 88 percent win rate.
“It was a great experience,” Naderi told me. “It was awesome going against an Iron Chef you grew up watching. The show was legitimately what it portrays, no gimmicks, a literal throwdown.”
Flay went with beef, saffron rice, and currants, playing it safe and hewing to tradition.
Naderi has been keeping a secret since the episode was filmed.
“I shot in early December, and it was really tough keeping my mouth shut for nine months until it aired. I love competitions and competing against actual chefs who know what they are doing and have been in the game. I think the win percentage on that show is like 12 percent, so it was cool to bring home a win for our restaurant staff, great customers, and awesome city.”
Naderi took on Mark Vecchitto of Connecticut in the episode’s first round; the two cooks had to use cannellini beans, and the Roost owner’s shrimp and grits (the beans served as the grits) defeated Vecchitto’s chili Colorado with bacon.