Drafting the Next Iron Chef

Posted by Lauren

Have you heard of The Food Network’s show Next Iron Chef: Redemption? Well, it’s one of my favorites. Last season, when Geoffrey Zakarian was crowned the next iron chef, my friend Andrew and I had a little wager going. Unfortunately, he bet Zakarian would win, so… basically I lost. We agreed to draft chefs after watching the first episode of this season. I can’t wait to have a winning chef this time around! Go Alex, go!

Andrew

  1. Amanda Freitag
  2. Elizabeth Faulkner
  3. Jehangir Mehta
  4. Spike Mendelsohn

Lauren

  1. Alex Guarnaschelli
  2. Nate Appleman
  3. Erik Greenspan
  4. Marcel Vigneron

So here’s the premise. First, all chefs complete in the Chairman’s Challenge.

There’s always a theme – episode 1 centered on Resourcefulness and episode 2 focused on Innovation. No shortage of twists during the Chairman’s Challenge!

After a winner and honorable mentions are selected, the bottom 2 or 3 battle it out in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Each chef gets 30 minutes to artfully prepare a dish highlighting a random ingredient. Meanwhile, all the other chefs look on and shout ‘encouraging’ words. Yeah, I’m sure the hot-seat chefs really want to hear what you think.

Episode 3 aired tonight! But first let’s chat about episode 1 and 2…

Challenge: be resourceful with the limited pantry, the matches, the aluminum foil, and the primitive fire pit that you A. need to start and B. need to share with another chef. Easy peasy.

Each chef got an ingredient that “took them out” on a previous competition. For my #1 Alex G-$, she had lobster! My #3, Greenspan, had to use grasshoppers, AGAIN.

We met the judges: Simon Majumdar (food and travel writer), Geoffrey Zakarian (last year’s winner and owner of multiple fireplaces), and Donatella Arpaia.. her advice came straight out of a cheerocracy flick: Bring it.

I have a hunch that Zakarian and G-$ are more than friends; his high acclaim of her lobster dish only adds weight to my argument.

I was equally proud of my #2, Nate Appleman, for his rendition of bananas. He prepared a banana curry with clams and roasted banana dish that blew the judges out of the water.

After all 10 chefs listened to the judges complain about too much salt, too little heat, bad bread, no texture, blah blah…. it was time to announce a winner!

I actually think Faulkner is a serious contender. She shut down her SF restaurant a year ago and I was almost positive it was because she would win last season. Alas, I was wrong. Season 1’s runner-up has even more reason for redemption!

But Faulkner didn’t win. Alex G-$ did.

By the way, who is Duskie?

Part two, Secret Ingredient Showdown for the bottom two chefs: Tim Love and Spike.

Both chefs spent 30 minutes preparing a savory dish with pineapple as the star. Texan restauranteur Tim Love decided he had enough time for a tequila shot.

Pineapples are one of my 3 least favorite foods. Icky!

In the end, the judges axed Chef Love and his pickled pineapple, quail, crispy kale, and juiced corn dish. Chef Spike made it through with a Vietnamese-style sweet and sour branzino.

As for episode 2, G-$ picked three groups of three to innovate on classic food concepts: taco, falafel, and the banh mi.

In the banh mi group: Faulkner, Appleman, and Greenspan. All solid contenders. (didn’t snap a screenshot)

15 TV-magic minutes later, the judges picked a winner in each group: Greenspan for the banh mi, G-$ for the taco, and Mehta for the falafel. Chef Mehta actually won the ‘best dish’ award and I agree that his was the most “innovative.” At least Greenspan knows a judge would marry him for his food.

Is that an unfair advantage?

Needless to say, Alex was a happy camper.

The bottom 3 proceeded to the Secret Ingredient Showdown: white bread.

Faulkner’s dish won high praises – she prepared a modern Monte Cristo stuffed with goat cheese and bacon along with a french toast ice cream. Alton implied that it should be Faulkner sitting at the judges table instead of Zakarian. He was not amused.

In the end, Duskie (pigtail lady) packed her bags. Neither of us drafted her so I’m 100% indifferent after episode 2. Can’t wait for the next one to hit Hulu!

Question: What’s your favorite cooking show?

-Lauren

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