On last night's Next Iron Chef finale, a pair of New York toques, Marc Forgione (Marc Forgione) and Marco Canora (Hearth, Terroir), went head-to-head in the final battle. Forgione triumphed, after eschewing turkey entirely and instead preparing an elaborate, "harvest" dinner — a spread the judges preferred to Canora's more traditional Thanksgiving meal. Grub Street checked in with Forgione the morning after his victory.
You opted not to use the turkey. Are you anti-turkey in general?
[Laughs.] Not at all, I love turkey. I didn’t cook turkey for any reason other than there was not turkey at the first Thanksgiving, which was called the harvest festival. I was trying to honor the first people that came to this country and survived the first few winters.
One thing that they didn’t really show was I wrote out a menu that had sixteen or seventeen different items that were at the first harvest festival. I didn’t re-create any actual dishes, it was all the [ingredients].
What are your own plans for Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving at the restaurant we keep it pretty traditional. We are toying with the idea of offering the menu we served on the show. It depends on the feedback we get. Thanksgiving is about eating great food with your family, so I’m not going to beat people over the head with what people ate at the first harvest festival.
Of the dishes you made, what do you deem your most successful?
The duck sausage wrapped in chard on a cornmeal crouton. When we made that and tasted it, myself and my sous-chefs pretty much high-fived. We’ve done similar dishes to that [in the restaurant]. I’ll probably introduce that next week. And we’re planning on doing a week in January, two weeks in January — we’ll call it a Next Iron Chef tasting menu, of my greatest hits.
You’ve been having a good run — the Michelin star, the Sifton review ... Do you think your Iron Chef win is going to affect anything at your restaurant?
It already has, just being on the show. We’re ready for it. We’ve had a really great five or six weeks. We haven’t changed anything we’ve done since day one. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.
What’s your relationship like with your rival, Marco Canora?
I love Marco, I love what Marco does. I eat at Terroir Tribeca all the time. He made me a better chef, and I’m not just saying that. I don’t think there’s anyone else on the show I would have rather battled.
Do you think it will be at all tense the next time you go into Terroir?
No, Marco’s become like a brother to me — all the guys on the show became great, great friends.
What’s next for you? Any plans to do more food TV?
I’m going to let that play itself out; I’m a chef, not an actor. People get surprised that I’m in the kitchen. But I’m not just there to sign autographs, I’m actually cooking the food.