Jose Garces, Philadelphia's "it" chef-restaurateur, was announced Sunday as the newest member of the Food Network's Iron Chef America team -- not only earning him bragging rights, but also directing an international spotlight on his fast-growing empire run out of Old City.
On The Next Iron Chef, Garces, 37, won a cooking duel against New York chef Jehangir Mehta, capping a season that began Oct. 4 with 10 contestants.
Garces hosted a viewing party last night at his West Philadelphia Mexican restaurant, Distrito, that attracted hundreds of fans and members of his close-knit staff. Chef Seamus Mullen, who was eliminated on last week's show, came down from New York to see Garces and Mehta create a multicourse meal out of various ribs.
The show, hosted by Alton Brown and "The Chairman" (played to a campy hilt by actor Mark Dacascos), was taped last spring, around the time that Garces was a no-show at a James Beard Awards ceremony at which he won best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. Whispers began that Garces could not attend because he was working on something substantial.