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Next Iron Chef City Challenge, 1st Rd.

In advance of the October 4 premiere of The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network (9pm), Eater is staging an elimination tournament with the chefs to determine the best food city. Two chefs a day tell us why their city is tops—and your vote determines which city moves on. Here now, in the last first round matchup, Jehangir Mehta talks up Mumbai, and Amanda Freitag praises New York City.

[Amanda Freitag and Jehangir Mehta. Photos courtesy The Food Network]

Which city is home in your chef's heart? Ideally, it's the city you grew up in.
JM: Bombay/Mumbai.
AF: New York City is home in my heart, both as a chef and as a resident. I love it here.

What's the first and most essential restaurant stop when you return to that city?
JM: Trishna—great seafood.
AF: Whenever I get back into town, my first stop is always The Harrison just because I always want to check in and make sure things are running smoothly. However, my next stop is generally someplace like Emilio Ballato's on Houston St. for some good pasta.

What are three other great places in the city that you recommend to friends or visitors, with a few quick words about why?
JM: Thai Pavillion—caters to a sophisticated pallet with Thai influences.
AF: The Red Cat – Always high energy and great food. It’s a crowd-pleaser for every crowd. Waverly Inn – For a good burger and the occasional NYC celeb sighting. Blue Ribbon – It’s just always good food and always a good vibe. I can go there any time, day or night.

What's the dish that represents that city the best?
JM: Sev Puri.
AF: Pizza. My favorite is at Franny's in Brooklyn.

Is there a special local ingredient from that city that you still incorporate into your cooking?
JM: Chat masala.
AF: We have everything here, so whatever looks good at the market ends up on the menu.

A final sentence on why it's the best food city.
JM: Because it is a cosmopolitan city and has food from all the regions of India. That is why I love NYC so much as it has the same feeling.
AF: New York is like the whole world in one city. Every cuisine and culture is represented, and represented well.

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