L'Etoile chef/owner Tory Miller will appear on the new Food Network show "Iron Chef Showdown" Wednesday at 8 p.m., but can't say how he fared in the competition or what ingredients he used in the food he prepared.
When the State Journal contacted the James Beard Award-winning chef about his appearance last month, he said it was his first time in Los Angeles and his first time ever in a food competition.
"It was definitely a blast and just super cool to represent Madison and Wisconsin on that stage," Miller, 42, said. "It was a lot of fun and kind of crazy. It's hard to know what's going to happen when you sign up for these things."
Miller, a part-owner of Deja Food Group — which runs the local restaurants L'Etoile, Graze, Sujeo and Estrellón — will face Jenner Tomaska of Next Restaurant in Chicago. The winner of the showdown faces Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Miller said he's met Flay before in New York, but enjoyed seeing him again and working with the show's production crew.
The filming, done over the summer, was interesting, he said, and involved a lot of "hurry up and wait." But Miller was happy to finally get out to L.A.
For all of the food towns he's been to, Miller admits it's surprising he'd never been there. "I've always been more of a New York guy."
Miller will host a watch party in the bar at his Spanish, tapas-style restaurant, Estrellón. Since it's a Wednesday, it'll be cheeseburger night, he said, chuckling about the elegant spot's casual special.
He expects about 50 people, mostly friends and family, but Miller said the event is open to the public.
L'Etoile is hosting a six-course dinner on Dec. 17 to celebrate Miller's appearance on the show.
In February, L'Etoile was nominated in the category of "Outstanding Restaurant" for a prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Award, considered the top honor in the culinary world. It didn't win.
Miller was up for an award in the overall "Outstanding Chef" category in 2016, but didn't make it into the final five. Miller won in the Midwest category in 2012 and was also nominated in 2011. L'Etoile's wine program was a semi-finalist in 2013.
The "Iron Chef" spin-off show, "Iron Chef Showdown," seeks to answer the question, "Whose cuisine reigns supreme?"
The format of "Showdown" is similar to the original: An accomplished chef competes against one of the resident Iron Chefs, who include Flay, Jose Garces, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon and Stephanie Izard.
But the twist of "Showdown" is that first the challenger has to earn the right to go up against an Iron Chef.
Two chefs prepare a dish using a secret ingredient revealed just before the cook-off. Host Alton Brown then chooses which chef continues on to the main event against an Iron Chef.
"So many people didn't even know that I taped it," Miller said. "So it will be exciting for people to see the episode. I'm excited to see it because it's a different format.
"I'm not even guaranteed to battle. I have to win to be able to battle, so it's more intense."
Whatever the case, Miller said it's always an honor to be asked to do something like this.
"But it's still nerve-wracking," he said. "I've never done any competitions ever. It was pretty insane to have this be the first one."