Another Houston chef has claimed reality TV victory. Kevin Naderi, chef-owner of Montrose neighborhood restaurant Roost, took down James Beard Award winner Bobby Flay on Thursday night’s episode of Beat Bobby Flay.
No stranger to reality TV or cooking competitions — he won the Houston Press’s Iron Fork competition so often that the publication made him a judge — Naderi tells CultureMap that the opportunity to go head to head with one of America’s most famous chefs really appealed to him. About 100 people joined Naderi for a watch party (that became a victory celebration) at 8th Wonder Brewery in EaDo.
“This is somebody who essentially had the same career path as me,” he says. “Regardless of the fact that he’s a badass now with 50 restaurants, we actually opened our restaurants at the same age. I beat him by eight months. I was talking to him about it. He (said) ‘great job.’ Really cool, humble, great guy.”
In the episode, Naderi earned the right to face Flay by beating Connecticut chef Mark Vecchitto in a Cannellini bean challenge. He then challenged Flay to a cabbage roll battle.
Taking his inspiration from Middle Eastern-style stuffed grape leaves, Naderi stuffed his cabbage rolls with lamb and pistachio then served it over tomatoes and roasted feta. Flay responded with a more traditional, Polish-style cabbage roll filled with ground beef and saffron rice and topped with a tomato sauce.
“I don’t really have a signature dish. (The producers and I) went back and forth on a couple of items,” Naderi says. Later adding, “We met in the middle and did something we were both familiar with. I thought (cabbage rolls) would be something fun and different that you can do endless variations of.”
Unlike Chopped, where three Houston chefs recently won $10,000 each, the only prize on Beat Bobby Flay is the bragging rights that come from accomplishing the show’s title. Still, Naderi says he enjoyed the trip to New York and has his sights on a couple of other shows.
“I want to do Knife Fight on Esquire,” Naderi says. “I really want to do Top Chef but at the same time the contractual obligations are really tough. I don’t know if I could leave for a couple months at a time.”