Iron Chef Jose Garces

March 5, 2012 9:48:21 AM PST
When Iron Chef Jose Garces is not battling top chefs from around the country in the Food Network's kitchen stadium, he is cooking in one of his five restaurants in Philadelphia, or Mercat a la Planxa, where he is executive chef in collaboration with Sage Restaurant Group. Garces is a Chicago native.

Mercat a la Planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave

Paella Negra

(serves 4-6 people)

1 quart Calasparra Rice
46 oz Squid Ink Broth
3/4 cup Blended Oil
1/4 pound Butter
1 minced Onion
2 tbsp Chopped Garlic
3 oz Calamari
1 Lobster
6 Mussels
2 Diver Scallops
3 Prawns
1/3 cup peas


Sweat onions and garlic in blended oil and butter in a paella pan over medium heat. Add rice to pot and coat with oil and chopped garlic and calamari and cook lightly. Toast in the pot for two minutes until rice becomes fragrant. Add squid broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the rice with parchment paper lid and the pan with aluminum foil, put in the oven for 20 min at 375 degrees F. In a separate pan cook seafood first season all seafood with salt and pepper. Add blended oil and cook over med heat. Add lobsters flesh side down, and scallops and cook for 3 min. turn over seafood and add prawns and mussels. Finish by adding peas, chopped parsley and whole butter.

To assemble, top paella with cooked seafood and garnish with toasted baguette, saffron aioli and a fresh tomato/parsley salad.

Spanish Omelette With Potatoes & Spinach, Jamon Iberico, Saffron Aioli

2 ea. Tortilla Espanola
4 oz. Saffron Aioli
For the Tortillas:

4 ea Eggs, Grade A Large
1 ea Idaho Potatoes, peeled, small diced and poached in oil until soft
1/2 ea Onion, small diced, sauteed
2 oz Baby spinach, sautéed, drained and chopped
1 ea Garlic cloves, chopped and sautéed with the onion
1 oz Extra Virgin olive oil
2 tsp Kosher Salt
Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl (should be just enough egg to hold it together). In a small non-stick omelette pan over medium-low heat, add extra virgin olive oil and coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour in egg mixture and cook slowly (about 7 minutes) until set. To flip the omelette, place an identical sized omelette pan on top of the other one and quickly turn upside down and place on the flame. Cook until bottom is set and place on a plate to cool to room temperature.

For the Saffron Aioli:

3 ea. Egg yolks
1/2 ea lemon, juiced
1/2 tbsp. Kosher salt
2 ea. Garlic cloves, roasted
1/2 tbsp. Saffron threads, bloomed in 1 tbsp. water
3/4 cup Blended oil
3/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil

In a food processor, puree yolks, lemon juice, garlic, saffron & water, and salt until smooth. With processor running, slowly add oils to emulsify. Cool in refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the dish:

2 ea. Tortilla Espanola

Preheat oven to 400o F. Place tortilla on a tray and put in oven to warm up for 4 minutes. Remove tortilla from the oven and slice into 4 equal pieces and spoon about a tablespoon of saffron aioli on the top of each slice. Garnish with chopped parsley and coarse sea salt if desired. Serve. SERVES 4

Fried Padron Peppers, Salbitxada, and Sea Salt
4 oz Padron Peppers
2 oz Salbitxada Sauce
1 tbsp Sea Salt
For the Salbitxada Sauce
1/2 cup Almonds, slice, blanched
6ea Garlic
4ea Tomato
1/2 bunch Parsley
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Chili Flake
In a food processor grind all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly add olive oil, while machine is running, until emulsified.

For the Fried Padron Peppers

4 oz Padron Peppers
2 qt Peanut oil for frying
1 tbsp. Sea salt

Heat Peanut oil in a deep fryer or pot to 375o F. Submerge peppers in oil for 45seconds, until skin begins to blister. Remove from oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

To Assemble the dish:

4 oz Padron Peppers
2 oz Salbitxada Sauce
1 oz Sea Salt

Place 2 oz of Salbitxada Sauce in a shallow bowl. Position 4 oz of peppers, bottom side down into sauce. Serve Hot!


Celebrity Chef Jose Garces, 35, has partnered with Sage Restaurant Group for the opening of Mercat a la Planxa. His involvement with this project heralds a new phase for the magnetic young chef and restaurateur.

Like his mentor, godfather of nuevo Latino cuisine, Douglas Rodriguez, Chef Garces is a leading innovator of Latin-influenced fine dining in the United States.

The Chicago-born chef, who learned the most basic culinary techniques by his grandmother's side in the family kitchen, continues to be influenced by his Ecuadorian roots. Since graduating culinary school at Kendall College, Chef Garces has honed his skills in world-famous kitchens including Spain's La Taberna del Alabardero, New York City's Bolivar and Rodriguez's landmark restaurants Chicama and Pipa.

In 2003, Chef Garces was chosen as Executive Chef for both Alma de Cuba and El Vez in Philadelphia. Chef Garces' influential tapas restaurants, Amada (opened in 2005) and Tinto (opened in 2007) have cemented his reputation as a master of the cuisines of the Spanish speaking world. Chef Garces' proven fluency with Latin cuisine recently earned him a 2007 nomination for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic from the James Beard Foundation.

His trademark dishes honor Latin flavors and traditions while invigorating them with a modern and creative twist. His cooking has garnered Chef Garces widespread acclaim in publications including the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Food & Wine and Conde Nast Traveler.

For his Iron Chef America debut, Chef Garces defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay in their on-camera duel in Food Network's Kitchen Stadium. As in his other television appearances, he was relaxed and amicable, able to easily explain his method while executing top-notch culinary marvels. His photogenic presence and ease onscreen make him a natural choice for such roles, and a compelling voice for America's thriving Latin food movement.

Chef Garces will follow his victorious appearance with a run on Food Network's highly anticipated second season of The Next Iron Chef, a fierce competition between 10 top chefs all seeking to earn the distinction of a place in Kitchen Stadium's pantheon of talented competitors. The winner of The Next Iron Chef will appear on the following season of Iron Chef America.

Recently Chef Garces has also found time to write his first cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, September 2008). The book contains modern recipes through which Chef Garces provides authoritative, much-needed context for the newly ubiquitous flavors and cooking styles of Spain, Mexico and much of South America, exploring the history of these cuisines even as he shapes their future.

He's thrilled to bring his passion for food and Spanish cooking to his home town with Mercat a la Planxa.