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Jet Tila

Secrets Behind Iron Chef America

    Jet Tila
Executive Chef, Wazuzu

TravelsinTaste.com: You recently faced Masaharu Morimoto during your very own Iron Chef battle. Did your knowledge of Morimoto's culinary style affect your plans?

Tila: Yeah, that's for sure. I've been watching this guy in action for over 10 years, so I knew the core was Japanese. I knew he brought a very international approach. I think I had an idea of where he was going. My approach is pan-Asian. I knew we were matched well. It was a really great match.

TravelsinTaste.com: What did you like and dislike about the secret ingredient, which was seaweed?

Tila: What I liked about seaweed was that it was diverse. It's used across platforms. However, I felt that Morimoto definitely had the upper hand. That's what I hated about it: He had a clear advantage because seaweed is a staple in Japanese cuisine, but it's not a staple in Thai or Chinese cuisines.

TravelsinTaste.com: What was your favorite of the five dishes you prepared?

Tila: My favorite was the drunken noodles because it spoke to where I come from. It’s a very Thai/Chinese dish -- a dish that I've been doing for a very long time -- but it was also a difficult dish because I had to make the noodles from scratch. I think it showed a lot of technique on my end and paid a little homage to where I come from.

TravelsinTaste.com: Did you get a sneak peek at what Morimoto was making?

Tila: During the one-hour battle you have Alton Brown and Kevin Brauch in one ear. In the other ear you have your chefs screaming at you. And in between you try to see what Morimoto is making. You only have an inkling based on the ingredients he's playing with. It was a mystery until the end.

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