Considering how vibrant, flavorful and interesting my evening was, this picture clearly does not do it justice. I had to post it though as proof. In case Chef Jehangir Mehta is indeed The Next Iron Chef, I want evidence of my evening with him.
Last year I walked by a small, dark but very appealing East Village Indian haunt and was intrigued. Next, I saw a Chef rock Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America competing again Iron Chef Morimoto in “Battle Coconut.” The Chef’s performance prompted me to seek out his restaurant. It was Graffiti. I G-chatted a friend, one of my favorite foodies, announcing that we needed to check this place out, but ironically I had not connected the two. With 18,696 restaurants in New York City, can you blame me? THEN, I see that this Chef is competing on Food Network’s new series: The Next Iron Chef. A few weeks ago, my Montauk couple returned from their honeymoon and wanted to take me to dinner and they made reservations for us at Graffiti. Lucky, lucky me.
I got ready for this dinner, as I would for a date, intentionally not wearing my tall girl boots as I am sure I am already taller than him and don’t want to tower over my culinary crush. A friend asked, “will he even be there?” I certainly hoped he would be, since I was already a fan of his on facebook and had tweeted that I was coming.
Not only was he there, he greeted me as I entered the restaurant. He is so warm and friendly. With a kitchen smaller than a station wagon, the food that came out of it was superior. Surprisingly, Chef Mehta spent most of his time in the dining room, not that there is a huge distinction in this cozy venue, but maneuvering a tightly packed Friday night crowd with grace. He is every bit as comfortable with the customers as he is in the kitchen, or at least he appeared to be. The restaurant was extremely accommodating and over delivered. Tasting portions allowed us to try nearly everything on the menu as did the other group of three who shared our communal table.
His contract would not allow him to reveal the outcome of his television competition, but he could assure me that it was an an excellent experience. I just watched the latest episode and he has made it to the final four, going to Japan for their next challenge. All the remaining chefs are wildly talented, but I do think he has a great chance and I love rooting him on each week.
Best of luck to Chef Mehta and his competition.
Planning a birthday, rehearsal or engagement dinner? Graffiti is perfect for a casual, delicious and funky fête.