Award-Winning Boulevard Chef’s Cuisine Reigns Supreme in Kitchen Stadium During Latest Episode of Food Network Canada’s Inaugural Season of Iron Chef Canada
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Chef Alex Chen became the first challenger to claim victory on the inaugural season of Iron Chef Canada after defeating Iron Chef Hugh Acheson on the fourth episode of the Food Network Canada TV show, which aired yesterday evening.
Chen had one hour to prepare five dishes comprising a showcase ingredient of tomatoes and earned a final score of 71 to Acheson’s 66 from the panel of three celebrity judges. The panel ascribed points to each chef based on first dish, taste, plating, originality and the incorporation of a surprise ‘culinary curveball’ of Berbere spice that was announced at the midway point of the show.
It marks yet another jewel in Chen’s culinary crown. The 2018 Vancouver Magazine Chef of the Year previously led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France and won the 2015 and ’17 Gold Medal Plates BC regionals as well as the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships.
Chen celebrated his victory with a full house of friends, family and industry peers who gathered to watch a live broadcast of the episode at Boulevard, the restaurant that he helped open as Executive Chef in 2014 and led to the Best Seafood and Best Upscale titles at the 2018 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.
“I can’t begin to describe what an incredible honour this is for me and the entire Boulevard team that believed in me and supported me every step of the way,” said Chen. “Two decades ago when I was a culinary student I would watch the original Iron Chef Japan episodes and it fed my adrenaline and got me to love culinary competitions. It was a true privilege to be invited to cook against such a fierce competitor as Hugh Acheson.”
During the episode, Chen was assisted by Boulevard’s Connor Sperling — winner of the 2017 Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Finals who previously supported Chen while competing at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or and the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships — and Pastry Chef Kenta Takahashi, an award-winning pastry chef in his own right in his native Japan.
“This is as much my sous chefs’ victory as it is mine,” said Chen. “Connor is so low-key but such a force of nature, and it is thanks to his calm attitude and precision that I became a student again. And Kenta is one of the best pastry chefs in Vancouver and such a silent warrior in the kitchen. I am honoured that both went into battle with me in Kitchen Stadium.”
Chen is one of only two BC chefs who were invited to compete in the inaugural 10-episode season of Iron Chef Canada. The other is Ocean Wise Executive Chef Ned Bell, who competed against mentor and Iron Chef Rob Feenie during the second episode of the show on October 24.
“I think Alex Chen did a great job,” said Acheson, an internationally recognized chef, author and restaurateur who hails from Ottawa but now resides in Georgia, where he is the chef/owner and partner of restaurants 5&10 and the National in Athens, GA and Empire State South, Achie’s and Spiller Park Coffee in Atlanta. “I’m going to eat at his restaurant now.”
Chen’s battle against Hugh Acheson can be viewed in its entirety online.
ABOUT BOULEVARD KITCHEN & OYSTER BAR | Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar redefines the fine art of dining with subtle, unexpected and playful approaches to cuisine, service and style. From the all-star front-of-house team to the acute attention to detail in design to the understated elegance of the restaurant’s seafood-focused cuisine infused with casual West Coast flair, Boulevard sets forth an uncompromising standard of excellence guaranteed to capture the attention of food-savvy Vancouver residents and visitors on plate and palate alike. Paired with exceptional service, a wide-ranging selection of wine and cocktails and true European ambiance in a traditional-yet-modern setting, Boulevard — winner of the 2018 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards for Best Seafood and Best Upscale — offers breakfast (6:30 to 11 a.m.), lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), dinner (5 to 11 p.m.) and late-night service until 1 a.m. seven days a week, as well as weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
ABOUT ALEX CHEN | Alex Chen got his first start of the restaurant industry in Vancouver while working as a dishwasher and busboy after emigrating with his family from Malaysia at the age of 13. From the auspicious start Chen went on to build an impressive resume with more than a decade of experience at some of the most acclaimed hotel properties across North America, including the world-renowned Beverly Hills Hilton and Polo Lounge and Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and Chicago. A classically trained chef with a true taste for high-pressure culinary competitions, Chen led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France prior to opening Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2014 and went on to claim top spot in the both the 2015 and ’17 editions of the Gold Medal Plates regional championships in Victoria, BC. This past year Chen struck gold at the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC and led Boulevard to the Best Upscale and Best Seafood titles at the 2018 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, where he was also singled out as Chef of the Year. In November, he defeated Canadian Iron Chef Hugh Acheson to become the first challenger to reign supreme in the Food Network Canada’s inaugural season of Iron Chef Canada.
Media release provided by Jan-Christian Sorensen, SMC Communications. Images Julianna Sonntag (SMC Communications)