Chuck Hughes, chef at Montreal restaurant Garde Manger, won Iron Chef America this past weekend, succeeding where few competitors have: Hughes beat culinary master Bobby Flay in the kitchen stadium battle, which featured a secret ingredient of Canadian lobster. Included in Hughes’s winning menu: lobster poutine. Hughes, 34, is the youngest Canadian and second Canuck to win the series, after Vancouver’s Rob Feenie defeated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 2005 (Susur Lee tied with Flay in 2006). Hughes is also the first Quebec chef to compete on the show.
Hughes’s luck may have been in the shellfish. He is such a fan of lobster that he has a tattoo of one on his arm, alongside shrimp, pie and bacon. “It’s my favourite food. It was almost too much. It was like: ‘If I don’t win, then do I need to cut my arm off? What happens if I don’t win? I’m a sham!” Hughes joked to the Canadian Press.
Sunday’s finale episode in Canada proved no amputation was necessary. Hughes admitted to the CBC, “I actually kind of knew exactly where we were going to go with it, so it was kind of a perfect-case scenario.” The rest of Hughes’s multi-course menu consisted of lobster roll with a bloody caesar cocktail, lobster and onion ring salad with carrot butter and avocado, lobster-mushroom risotto and jerked-spiced lobster. Cooking alongside Hughes were his sous chefs from Garde Manger, Jean-Francois Methot and James Baran.