Photo by: brad swonetz ©brad swonetz photography

brad swonetz, brad swonetz photography

Marco Canora's Bio

Eliminated the Final Week

Marco Canora's appreciation for good food flourished as a child growing up in upstate New York. In the summer months his mother's harvest of herbs and vegetables served as the inspiration for dishes she enjoyed during her childhood in Lucca, Italy. After graduating from Pace University, Marco landed at Dean & Deluca, where he discovered the vital role high-quality produce plays in creating dishes. On a motorcycle trip around the country, Marco took time off the road to hone his culinary skills at Winston's, a seafood restaurant in Boulder, Colo., and then at San Francisco's Backstage restaurant. Feeling the pull of home, Marco returned to New York City with a clear goal in mind: to work at one of the city's best restaurants.

As luck would have it, Gramercy Tavern was looking for line cooks and offered Marco a job. Chef/owner Tom Colicchio fostered the young chef's career, encouraging Marco to travel to Italy. He took his mentor's advice to heart and moved to Florence, where he worked at Fabbio Picchi's world-renowned restaurant, Cibrèo. Upon his return he opened La Cucina, a 50-seat seasonal restaurant in Edgartown, Mass. It turned out to be an unprecedented success for Marco, earning him rave reviews and a bevy of high-profile guests including former President Bill Clinton, for whom Marco prepared a 50th birthday dinner.

When Marco returned to Gramercy Tavern, Colicchio appointed him sous chef, and in 2001 he selected him to open Craft. The restaurant went on to receive three stars from The New York Times and the James Beard Foundation Award for "Best New Restaurant." While at Craft, Marco created the menu for Craftbar, Craft's more casual sibling, and The Next Iron Chef finalist oversaw the opening of Craftsteak in Las Vegas.

Marco decided to strike out on his own, and in 2003 he partnered with Paul Grieco to open Hearth in Manhattan's then-burgeoning East Village. The restaurant earned a loyal following and critical acclaim, including a positive two-star review from The New York Times and a nomination for The James Beard Foundation Award for "Best New Restaurant."

In 2008 Marco and Paul opened Terroir, a casual wine bar just steps away from Hearth. The bar has earned a legion of fans for Marco's inspired menu and Paul's quirky wine list. This year, they opened Terroir Tribeca, the second location of their East Village wine bar, which features a larger kitchen that allows Marco to expand on the original menu and showcase the full range of his talent.

Marco's first cookbook, Salt to Taste, was released by Rodale in October 2009 and nominated in 2010 for the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award in the General Cooking category.

Chef Canora's Videos

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Chef Canora's Photos

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The Next Iron Chef Journals

Chef Marco Canora kept his red journal by his side through the final battle in Kitchen Stadium. Its pages give an inside look at this New York City chef's road to the finale.

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

"I'm here to win."

With 20 years of experience as a chef and restaurant owner, Chef Canora was a strong contender from the get-go.

Cooking on the Beach

Chef Canora stayed true to his cooking style no matter what the challenges threw at him: "I'm into subtlety in food."

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

Battle Pig

Along with two other rivals, Chef Canora chose suckling pig as his desert island ingredient. On the opposite page, he plans ahead, listing potential dishes and components he'd like to use in future challenges.

Desert Island Dish

Chef Canora finished in the top three with his Grilled Stuffed Pork Loin With Papaya and Pineapple. Simon Majumdar applauded him for turning the pork into "something fatty, moist and delicious" in a short amount of time.

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

Keeping Focus

Chef Canora scrawls some motivational words in his journal between challenges.

Bring the Heat

In the pickle Secret Ingredient Challenge, Chef Canora topped cherry peppers with hot pickled garlic. "You know what they say: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." — Chef Canora

Fishing Trip

Chef Canora returned from the boat trip with scorpion fish and decided to prepare two variations of cacciuco, an Italian seafood stew. One would be "Old World" and hot, the other "New World" and raw.

Going for the Win

The judges loved Chef Canora's Hot and Cold Cacciuco With Scorpion Fish, Santa Barbara Prawns and Manila Clams. It won over Donatella Arpaia: "Chef Canora, welcome to the race."

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Transformation

Chef Canora's approach to the state fair challenge: Turn "high-fat, high-sodium, unhealthy" fair food into "healthy, tasty, fun" fair food. "It's risky but I like it," he writes in his journal.

A Day at the Fair

The chefs arrive at the San Diego State Fair and listen to the specifics: They must prepare three fair dishes, one fried, one grilled and one on a stick.

Getting Organized

With limited ingredients gathered from the fair's concession stands, Chef Canora maps out the prep list for each of his "healthy" fair dishes.

Good-for-You Fair Food?

Chef Canora's ideas materialized into these three dishes: Mediterranean Vegetables and Feta Stuffed Fried Chicken Thigh; Tomato Salad on a Stick; and Grilled Shrimp Taco.

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Unsatisfied

The judges liked Chef Canora's food, but Chef Tio beat him out for the win. His post-challenge journal reflections: "I really feel I deserved to win this one BUT I won the last one ... "

Out of His Element?

For the next elimination challenge, Chef Canora is a little nervous about preparing regional American food: "The Americana thing, it's not really my shtick. Not very user-friendly for the Old-World Italian cook guy."

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Head in the Game

Chef Canora maps out his dishes for North, South, East and West. On the opposite page, he gives himself a little pep talk.

Italian Chef Goes All-American

Chef Canora's final plate: Snapper Crudo With Apple (East); Raw Vegetable Salad (West); Louisiana Fried Soft Shell Crab (South); and Rosemary and Lavender Marinated Lamb Chop (North).

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Welcome to Vegas

For the first challenge in Las Vegas, the chefs must create wedding-worthy desserts, which puts all of them out of their element. Chef Canora's dessert got a harsh critique from guest judge Jean-Philippe Maury.

Pastry Plan B

Chef Canora intended to make croquembouche — a French dessert that's essentially a tower of tiny cream puffs — but his cream puffs failed to "poof." He decided to cut them in half and make little sandwiches.

Buffet Planning

Each chef must prepare three hot and two cold dishes to modernize the classic Vegas buffet, so Chef Canora maps out his spread in his journal.

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Chaos in the Kitchen

After winning the buffet challenge, Chef Canora recaps in his journal: "I'm not a religious person, but I must say it was a miracle that I finished all of my dishes for this challenge."

Chef Canora's Buffet

Compressed Fruit Salad; "Seafood Salad" Scallop Carpaccio With Salmon Belly Sashimi; Arista With Fennel Passatta; New School Eggplant Parmesan; Braised Veal Cheek

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Master Mixologist

Chef Canora took the win in the next Secret Ingredient Challenge, despite his lack of cocktail experience: "Here's this uber master mixologist, and that's not my world. I'm just not comfortable in that arena."

Chef Canora's Winning Pairing

"Avariation" Cocktail: Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Lime Juice, Crème de Violette, Lavender Lime Salt Rim. Snack: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Cherry With a Black Pepper Bacon Bite.

On a Roll

Chef Canora's win in the Seduction Challenge was his third in a row — and it secured him a spot in the final Kitchen Stadium battle.

Winning Wagyu

Chef Canora's winning three-course menu included this Wagyu Beef Tartare With Uni, Osetra Caviar, Jidori Egg, Yuzu and Chives.

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

On to New York

"It's phenomenal! Kitchen Stadium is something I've been watching for a decade, and to think I'm going to be going to Kitchen Stadium, it's pretty special."

Photo By: EDWARDCHEN

Final Battle

When he learns the final battle will be Thanksgiving-themed, Chef Canora begins hashing out ideas.

Honoring Tradition

Chef Canora decides to serve soup as a first course, as his family does every year: "I not only wanted to honor tradition, but also my own family tradition on Thanksgiving day."

Thanksgiving Soup

Chef Canora's First Course: Roasted Fennel Soup With Butter-Poached Lobster, Orange and Sweet Pumpkin-Spiced Pickles.

Respecting the Bird

For the main course of his Thanksgiving feast, Chef Canora "very much felt obliged to do turkey" to honor tradition. Morimoto loved it: "Best turkey I've ever had."

Talking Turkey

While breaking down a heritage turkey, Chef Canora answers questions from Kevin Brauch. What's the tattoo on Canora's forearm? It says "terroir" — the name of his restaurant and wine bar.

Turkey Dinner Plate

Chef Canora's Third Course: Turkey Breast With Porcini Stuffing, Cranberry Puree, Sage Salt.

Finishing Second

"I was shocked. I thought I won it. It's bittersweet. I got this far and I'm going to go out with my head high, for sure. It's been a wild ride." — Chef Canora

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