Posted by Lauren
*Pressing publish before spell check, got to run! (Literally.)*
Although you wouldn’t know it from the blog, I have been keeping up with this season of Next Iron Chef. Four episodes aired since I last posted about episode 3’s Simplicity challenge but you bet I’ve kept a close eye on my chef draft picks. #TeamAlex all the way.
I’m going to highlight the ups and downs of episodes 4, 5, and 6, which focus on Transformation, Risk, and Fusion (such serious episode names!). Seven chefs turned into four…. and soon there will be one!
Episode 4 – Transformation
Chairman’s Challenge: transform nasty canned food into food of Iron Chef caliber.
- Creepy Mehta got canned chicken. He vowed to make it stand out “like a lion.” Although his rice was mushy, the chicken pergora (?) with green curry got him through.
- Falkner ended up with canned roast beef. I didn’t even know they put roast beef in cans. Gross! She made a “really good” red wince sauce with cognac, veal stock and paired it with roasted vegetables. She won.
- Alex G-$ picked the canned ham and served the judges a sugar snap pea/ravioli dish with basil puree. It was good enough to keep her out of the bottom two.
- Appleman ended up with canned tuna. He transformed it into tuna puttanesca (with ricotta gnocchi) and frozen tuna shards of some variety. The ofrozen canned tuna made him seem more “out of the box.”
- Freitag struggled with opening her can of corned beef. Girl has trouble opening and closing things! She cooked mustard greens in bacon fat, potatoes in duck fat, and assembled an homage to real corned beef with mustard caviar and yorkshire pudding!!! Ooh la la.
However, it was Chef Spike’s lame vienna sausage Vietnamese crepe dish and Chef Spike’s clam “crazy water” pasta dish that landed them in the bottom two.
Turns out, these two are BEST FRIENDS FOR EVER AND EVER.
“We used to, like, throw frisbees and make gnocchi together.”
They were stoked to battle each other in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Um, you guys know what “showdown” means, right?
They got the easiest ingredient ever… lobster.
Spike and Vigneron decided to put their creations on the same plate for judging. You kidding me??
“We came here together, we are going to play together, we might as well be judged together.”
Reaction from the chefs watching on…
Their reactions were so funny, I actually typed them out word-for-word:
Freitag: “What are you guys up to? What do you got going on there?… It’s not a good idea”.
Alex G-$: “What are they doing? They’re plating on the same plate. Wow. That is unprecedented.”
Falkner: “I’m so perplexed right now. I don’t even know what to say.”
And the best yet…
Appleman: “Good for them. I think it’s the worst decision they could have ever made. I think this is what’s going to send both of them home… I think they’re making a mockery of this competition. I think it’s going to blow up in their face.”
Don’t hold back, Nate!
The judges were not impressed by the 1 Plate Wonder. Zakarian felt they got played. The British guy said “silliness doesn’t show Iron Chef behavior.” And the chick said Spike and Vigneron made an arrogant decision.
Although Vigneron didn’t want to eliminate his “best friend,” his lobster out-clawed the competition. Heh. Heh. Bye Spike!
Episode 5 – Risk
This episode was a direct copycat of one from last season. Except this time they used bigger food. Bigger isn’t always better Food Network (#guyfieri).
Premise: the chefs auctioned cooking times to win certain food items. Example: I can cook those frog legs in 40 minutes. I can cook them in 35 minutes! 30 minutes!
Last year Alex G-$ had to cook lamb in 20 minutes. This year she made sure to be aggressive with the first item up for bids: bison ribs.
Appleman and Creepy Mehta sat quitely until the last two freight trucks opened up their doors.
Creepy Mehta picked up ostrich eggs for 25 minutes and Appleman defaulted to the last item: mortadella (and only 20 minutes to cook it!)
Appleman wasn’t worried about size (that implies something, don’t you think?) and attacked the tip of the 180 pound Italian sausage.
The other chefs prepare calves’ heads (Vigneron), the exotic paiche fish (Falkner), and a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano (Freitag).
Since she won last week, Chef Falkner had the QUOTE UNQUOTE advantage of judging her competitors. Last season Anne Burrell had the same advantage, but she was sent home in the showdown against the very person she chose to send to the showdown. Twisted, huh?
Anyways, Falkner tasted everything and scribbled secretively on a piece of paper. Who would she send to the showdown????!!!
Then the chefs went to the real judges and this happened:
Alex G-$’s beef tongue theft got her through to next week, as did the souffles of Creepy Mehta and Freitag. SADLY, two of my favorites ended up in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.
Yes, Falkner put Appleman in the bottom 2 AND the judges put HER in the bottom 2. Just like last year! Semi-predictable, Food Network.
Both chefs were happy about the sardine secret ingredient, but only one could survive.
Might I remind you that Appleman is my #2 pick and Falkner is Andrew’s #2 pick? (Please excuse typo, below)
Although it pained the judges to make a call (I mean really, look at them), they sent Falkner home because she used too much saffron. It was emotional!
Sorry to see you go, Lizzie.
Girl needs her own show!
Episode 6 – Fusion
And now we’re in Las Vegas. How remote, NOT.
The 5 remaining chefs head to the Chapel at MGM for the Chairman’s Challenge.
Premise: each Iron Chef hopeful must be able to produce culinary bliss with ingredients that don’t at first seem to naturally juxtapose.
Alton reveals the ingredient lovers and then Vigneron assigns them to the chefs as his reward for winning last week.
He picked peanut butter + blue cheese for himself (nice choice smartypants). He gave chicken livers + peppermints to Alex G-$, bone marrow + fruit candies to Creepy Mehta, clams + strawberries to Appleman, and calarmi + marshmallows to Frietag.
Some of those combos are truly frightening.
Appleman, who never shows an ounce of kindness to his competitors, helped Freitag when she ONCE AGAIN could not close the pressure cooker lid. Like I said earlier, the lady can’t open and close things!
Jury’s still out on if I think Chef Vigneron is Iron Chef caliber. Clearly he acts like a caveman (or like I do when I have cake batter leftovers).
The chefs pranced around the small Nobhill Tavern kitchen, but it’s my #1 pick Alex G-$ that really brought her A-game to Vegas. Look how cute she looks! Girl is ready to hit up the clubs.
Their “fusion” offerings… which food pair needed a prenup?
That looks like a winning squid/marshmallow dish to me!
Creepy Mehta stripped the skittle down a little too far, even for Vegas standards.
Alex G-$ played it safe, once again, but her charm and peppermint candy balsamic vinegar salad dressing got her through to the next round.
OMG the judges loved this. No kidding, it’s PEANUT BUTTER and CHEESE!
Appleman’s “crazy water” just wasn’t crazy-good. Did anyone else notice how Appleman made the same type of dish that saved Vigneron in the Best Friend Battle of episode 4?
Surprisingly, Freitag won!
Her reaction is fairly cookie-cutter.
Appleman and Creepy Mehta head to the Secret Ingredient Showdown: shrimp, teppanyaki style!
Appleman’s okonomiyaki (traditional Japanese pancake) with peas, peppers, and kefir lime outdid Creepy Mehta’s “shrimp spectacular.”
No more creepy stares off into the distance! Hallelujah!
If you’re keeping score, this is where Andrew and I stand after episode 6:
- Amanda Freitag
- Alex Guarnaschelli
- Nate Appleman
- Marcel Vigneron
Things are looking pretty good…. sorry Andrew.