Local chef beats Bobby Flay on Iron Chef

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

Local Chef Chris Hastings beat Chef Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America Feb. 26.

Hastings, who owns Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, competed against Flay in July 2011, and his kept his win a secret even through the day of the show’s airing.

“It wasn’t as hard as you would think,” Hastings said of keeping the secret. “The most important thing about that was that we didn’t want to steal that moment from anyone,” Hastings said. “It’s like opening up a gift the day before Christmas. Christmas morning is Christmas morning. You don’t want to open those gifts before they’re supposed to be opened.

“We wanted everyone to experience it as we experienced it. I hadn’t seen the edited show,” he added. “I wanted to see everyone experience that moment like we had.”

The episode’s “secret ingredient” was sausage, which was a blessing for the southern chef.

“It was great. It could have been canned tuna, know what I mean?” Hastings said. “That was fantastic. We were excited about that.”

Michele Scott, principal of Hilltop Montessori School in Mt Laurel, where Hastings volunteers some of his time, said she enjoyed watching Hastings’ calm appearance on the show.

“The thing about him I’ve noticed, which he did with the children as well, he’s so calm,” Scott said. “I watch that show, and people get real frazzled, but he was so calm about it.”

“He had a southern influence. All the teachers here watched. We’re so proud of him,” she added. “I just think he’s such a southern gentlemen. I just think he represented our state exceptionally.”

Hastings designed plates with Tena Payne of Earthborn Studios in Leeds especially for the show.

“We were allowed to bring general stuff they couldn’t source for us in New York,” Hastings said. “Some of the things we get from our farmers and all of our great relationships in the farming community. We were only able to get those in Birmingham.

“We didn’t know what our secret ingredient was going to be,” he added. “That means we brought all kinds of stuff for the ‘maybe’ chance we were going to use it.

“It was an amazing experience. It was absolutely a thrill and amazing moment for us, and we just loved it,” Hastings said. “It was very stressful, but life’s stressful anyway.”